Job 7:20-21 “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offences and forgive my sins? For I shall soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I shall be no more.”
There are many faithful Christian believers today – as there have been down through the ages – who can readily identify with the sentiments expressed so intensely by Job here! If we are not one of them, we probably know people, even close friends and loved ones, who are.
God’s providence often seems unfair, disproportionate, and completely unfathomable. How can an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God put some people through the trials that afflict them year after year, with no light at the end of the tunnel in this life. We ask (and that’s probably too weak a verb) with Job, “Why have you made me[/them] your target? Have I[/they] become a burden to you?” It just makes no sense at all to us. And if Job can ask, way back then: “Why do you not pardon my offences and forgive my sins?”, how much more intensely might we ask the same question when we KNOW that this same God has sent his only Son into the world to bear ALL the guilt, ALL the shame and ALL the punishment of ALL OUR sins, in OUR place, to earn forgiveness FOR US?
On top of all this Job seems to be giving up hope of any final relief in a life beyond the grave! If you’ve kept reading this in the hope that I have an answer to these hard questions then I’m sorry to disappoint you. This is not surprising when we also see at the end of the book Job wasn’t given an answer either – he was just required to TRUST God in the darkness – as per Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we DO NOT SEE.”
Nevertheless, it is comforting to note that Job will later say things like: ”But if I go to the east, he is NOT there; if I go to the west, I do NOT find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch NO glimpse of him. But HE KNOWS the way that I take; when he has tested me, I SHALL come forth as gold.” (23:10); and “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock for ever! I KNOW that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I MYSELF WILL SEE HIM with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (25:23-27).
It is comforting to know that our faith can be FIRM, and our confidence in our God can remain strong, even when we can’t come to terms with some of the things that are happening to us or to others!