Bildad’s words to Job were brutal and cutting to the highest degree. Imagine suffering the loss of your 10 children in one horrendous and freak accident – only to be told that they must have deserved it, and in some way you do too. I can’t imagine it. Such grief is beyond my scope at present. And it pray it is beyond yours at well – not only at this point, but until life is through. But it is Job’s grief. And while his response to Bildad is understandably saturated with sorrow – it is also super-humanly tempered. He responds some to his friend’s careless “comfort” – but is still more troubled by his own inability to answer the “why?” question satisfactorily.
Job knows full well he isn’t sinless perfect. He isn’t trying to justify himself that way, even if his friends don’t understand what his real point is. It is as though he says: “Look, no one is completely innocent. I know that. That’s my point. If no one is completely righteous, then why me? Why this? I am completely confused. I do not understand what God is doing. And I just want to die.” I for one, get that. I understand that he just wants the misery to end at this moment. Yet how he endures. How he holds out. Because still, in the back of his mind, behind the haze that all his misery and confusion has shrouded his soul in, he knows God is to be honored, even when He cannot be understood. Undergirding all he says, that reality never completely leaves Him.
Chapters nine and ten then form his reply, and they read something like this:
9:1-12 / Bildad, seriously, I KNOW no one is without sin absolutely. I know how much higher God is than we are. That is not the question. I am not trying to say that.
9:13-24 / I’m not trying to say I’m perfect. I’m not saying God isn’t higher than I am. I’m not saying God isn’t just. I’m AM saying this doesn’t make sense. And if this is punishment – it doesn’t fit the crime. What could I have possibly done to warrant this?
And if God isn’t the one who did this in the face of my relative innocence, then tell me who did! I’m lost.
9:25-31 / No matter what I say, I know I can’t convince you that this is not some sort of tit-for-tat retribution for some hidden and unrepented of sin.
9:32-35 / And, at the same time, I KNOW God is just, but yet if I could only make my case to Him that this situation is somehow unjust, even though I know He isn’t.
10:1-15 / I hate my life – for I am stuck in this conundrum: Am I not the work of your hands Lord? So did you make me just to have me suffer without cause? No matter how innocent I am, I still look guilty in this condition. It is a lose-lose proposition for me.
10:16-22 / Better you just abandon whatever this is and give me at least a little peace and let me die.
Some might think a Christian should never sink so deep as to despair of life. From the comfort of my easy chair, I can say that too. Yet Christians of all stripes and in all ages have found themselves so severely tested, that death alone seemed to be a viable answer. What is remarkable here is that Job did nothing to end his own life. His knowing that God is still God, and that such a response is not the answer, even though it may seem like AN answer – at least to the suffering in the moment. He clings to the gift of life, no matter how mangled and excruciating it is at present. As he will state later, “I know that my Redeemer lives” – and that is enough for him. And if you perhaps find yourself today in the throes of the unbearable, may Job’s example, and the Spirit of Christ indwelling all who are His, turn your eyes to the Living Redeemer today as your very present Help in this time of desperate need. Your Redeemer, Christ the Redeemer lives. It isn’t over.