November 11, 2018: Eternal Weight of GloryJosh Moody
Job finishes his reply to Bildad on a note of deep depression and raw despair. Remember that Bildad, one of “Job’s comforters,” has been offering Job comfort in his suffering. This comfort has been anything but helpful; indeed, his counsel has been quite damaging. Job has replied to his words, but now he is not so much replying as declaring and revealing the true nature of his soul. He is in despair. That single sentence description does not do justice to the range of his emotion as described in this chapter. It is a startling read. And yet – if we are honest – this is how people feel at times. Especially, when they are faced with the kind of suffering that had come upon Job. It is encouraging (can we really put it like that?) to read of a godly man who experienced this level of pain. What it means is that if we experience anything even remotely like it, we can be sure that God is not beyond redeeming our life, too – as he redeemed Job’s.
He starts as he means to go on in this chapter. “I loathe my very life.” It is one thing to experience suffering externally; it is another thing to hate yourself. Job says this is what he thinks about himself now: I loathe my very life. And because of this despair, “therefore I will give free rein to my complaint.” And does he ever!
His point, though expressed with poetic range of diction and profundity of emotion, is nonetheless basically a simple one: he is saying why did God bother to give him life if he was going to treat him this way? And having given him life, can’t he just leave him alone so he can enjoy himself for a bit before he dies?
Perhaps you are wondering what the purpose of your life is? Perhaps it can sometimes seem to you that God is such an “interferer” and you wish he’d just leave you alone to do what it is that you want to do: enjoy a few hobbies, lead a peaceful life. It is possible for a believer in God to sink into a deep slough of despond.
But in Christ we need not stay there; certainly we should not wallow there beyond what is unavoidable. Unlike Job, we have a perspective on life after death that is sure and certain because of Christ’s resurrection. We know that this world is not our home, and we know that we will spend eternity with God enjoying him forever. This “eternal weight of glory” gives us the ability to look at our (relatively speaking) light and momentary troubles with new eyes and a new attitude. Yes, by all means, we can be honest about our feelings like Job was. But we also, unlike Job, have a certainty, an anchor to our soul in the midst of the storm, that can stop us from utter despair – even when facing the suffering of a Job. That certainty is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our labor in the Lord is not in vain. And living as a follower of God this side of the resurrection enables us to look at our pain and suffering as – while still pain and suffering, and therefore not to be minimized or faked with a pretend smile – nonetheless as part of a larger picture that leads to a life of eternal joy with Christ forever.