Bible Reading: Job 7:12-21
“What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment?” (Job 7:17-18)
A hard question stands. When affliction and hard times inflict us, does that mean God has abandoned us?
Job lived such an experience. His affliction was so severe that he despised his own existence and demanded answers from God. Why did God punish him severely out of the blue? Had he done anything wrong?
Job’s friends did not seem to understand either. Being well-learned in theology, they knew the formula. When you sin, God will punish you. So, they insisted on probing Job to confess a hidden sin which Job openly said, “I have none to hide”. Had God left Job and turned away from him? God had called Job a “blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). What had God done? Was Job abandoned?
Job 7:17 quoted above parallels Psalm 8:4, which says, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”. In Psalm’s context, the psalmist questions God out of awe for His goodness. The psalmist contemplates the majesty of God revealed on earth and in the heavenly arrays. Yet, amongst all His handiwork, the apple of God’s eye is on humans. “Wow, how is God so good?” the psalmist would gasp.
On the other hand, Job says the same statement, “what is man, that you make so much of him”. But Job’s tone is something like this, “why do You keep bothering me, God? Why won’t You stop testing me and trying me and sending all these afflictions to me? When will You leave me alone?”
Is the God who is mindful to care for us as testified by the psalmist, a different God who tests us with affliction? No. The God behind both good and hard times is the same faithful God whose steadfast love endures forever. It is in the fact that God never leaves us alone that we can rest assured. In good times, God shows us HIs abundant blessings and glory. Yet, through affliction, God’s secret hand is at work to refine us and silver is refined in the fire.
Remember what Hebrew 12:3-11 tells us. v. 7 recalls, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” And see the fruit that affliction reaps in v. 11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”.
All these verses only testify to the promise noted in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. God does not leave us alone in prosperity or hardship. He is always working for our good.
Lord, thank You that You are always good and steadfast in love. In hard times, we do not understand Your way or Your secret wisdom. However, we want to trust in You. Please help us know that You are a good and faithful God and that Your ways are above our ways. There is no counsellor by You. In good and hard times, please bring us to know You and enjoy You more. In Jesus’ name, amen.