WFW: In The Pit of Despair

Last week, after thinking about what Alice said in her Word For Wednesday, I decided to do a little reading in Job. I began reading in the middle of the Book of Job to hear Job's side of the story right before his friend Elihu starts speaking the truth to him - this was the friend who actually had some wisdom, unlike the other three friends! Here are my observations...

It is obvious to all that Job was going through a huge trial. He had lost everything that he had held dear, and was now fighting for his life, literally. Job's despair is very apparent throughout the discourse in the Book of Job. 

But there is another point that is quite evident, as well: Job believed that God was testing him. Job 23:10 states, "But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." This is not entirely true. While it is true that we come out of our trials purified "as gold" if we hold fast to the Word of God through it, it is not true that the Lord tests us. I have said before that the Lord does not give us problems; He uses them -- many times, to mold us into the vessel that we need to be. This is a fact that is supported by Scripture. (In fact, when Satan came to the Lord and asked to harm Job, the Lord would not let him take Job's life; it should be noted here, that it was the devil who attacked Job, not God. And God used this instance and came through miraculously for Job in the end.)

But let's back up for a second. Let's read Job 23:8-14 to get the full context:

"'Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such things are with Him.'"

So we see that Job felt so lost in the middle of his situation; He couldn't even find God in it. He said in chapter 29:2, "Oh, that I were as in months past, as in the days when God watched over me..." He thought God had forsaken him. "Where is God?" Does that sound familiar to anyone? Being at a loss to understand, Job reasoned that he had done something wrong; numerous times, he says that God knows man's ways, as if his ways were not pleasing to the Lord. Then he goes on to say that he has not departed from God's commandments. Finally, he says of God, "And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me..." Job blames God for His situation - "It must be what God has appointed for me." It's just what he said at the beginning: "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." Yet, the Scriptures say that in all of this, Job did not sin with his lips. How can that be? Job constantly contradicted his own beliefs! I believe this is the reason: although Job blamed God, he never cursed Him; He said, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord!" That is pretty commendable considering the fact that he had all of his supposed friends -- and even his own wife -- trying to "comfort" him by pointing out all of his faults in the midst of his trial! Isn't that just like the devil, "the accuser of the brethren"? He comes to steal, kill, and destroy; when something goes wrong, he always tries to whisper his lies into our ears, because he knows that we are under pressure -- he wants to see us cave in! But how many of us would actually praise the Lord in the midst of our trials? We should, but most of the time, we don't. Interestingly, though, as confused as Job was he knew better. He said to his friends, "Why then do you behave with complete nonsense?" I got a kick out of that! For one, Job was basically saying, "Well you guys certainly haven't helped!" And secondly, I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if we all stood up to the devil like that?" (We should, you know! see Matthew 4:10 and James 4:7) So Job was pretty confused in the midst of all of this; He had a glimpse of what was right, but the pressure made him say some things which were incorrect. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Often, when the storms are raging and the devil whispers in our ear, we know what's right; but we get confused in the middle of the situation because there is so much pressure. The devil loves to use our weaknesses to jab us with thoughts that would not make sense in any normal situation -- he tries to catch us when we are off guard. Sometimes, as it did for Job, the pressure seems to be too much. Still, Job would not sin with his mouth by cursing the Lord! Notice that he did open up his mouth and say many things that the Lord was not pleased with; in fact, when God revealed Himself to Job and rebuked him, Job repented saying, "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." (Job 42:3) But God is faithful. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1Corinthians 10:13)

But it is interesting to note that even though the storm was raging, God sent one friend who spoke the truth to Job; this was his friend Elihu, and he was full of the wisdom of the Lord. In chapter 30:27-28, Job expresses his feelings for the umpteenth time, stating, "My heart is in turmoil and cannot rest; days of affliction confront me. I go about mourning , but not in the sun..." Job was in the depths of despair; he was in a pit so deep that he could not see the light of day. How many of us know exactly how that feels? But God used Elihu to point out the flaws in Job's logic and rebuke his friends. See, God has not left us alone in our storms; He said, "I am with you always," and He is always sure to remind us of that even in the midst of our storms. And He can do it in any way possible, too. Sometimes, it's in the little things; and sometimes, as He did in this case, He will use a friend to set you straight. 

After, addressing Job and his friends, Elihu starts his discourse; in chapter 33, he says something that is amazing. If you are going through a storm right now, I hope that you will really latch onto these words as I did; they are an amazing source of comfort...

"Yes, his soul draws near to the Pit, and his life to the executioners. If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness, then He is gracious to him, and says, 'Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom'; His flesh shall be young like a child's, He shall return to the days of his youth. He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Then he looks at men and says, 'I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it did not profit me.' He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light. Behold God works all these things, twice in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life." (Job 33:22-30)

I noticed three things here:

1) Job was about to go down to the pit; many of us have been in that same position before. Yet God said, "I have found a ransom." Who is that ransom, but Jesus? He paid the price for our iniquities so that we wouldn't have to go down to the pit. Psalm 40:1-2 states, "I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps." Interestingly, the Word of God is likened unto a Rock upon which we build our house, so that when the storms rage, our house does not fall!

2) "He restores to man His righteousness." The Scriptures say that Jesus "became for us wisdom from God -- and RIGHTEOUSNESS and sanctification and redemption..." (1 Corinthians 1:30) When we are feeling like we are in the depths of the pit, not only does God reach down and pull us out by the ransom of His Son, Jesus, but He also restores to us our righteousness! As I said before, oftentimes, we feel so horrible in the midst of the storm because the devil sends all sorts of attacks upon us when he perceives that we are the weakest. This can cause us to feel so depressed, because all these thoughts are jabbing at us at once -- just like they were for Job. However, we are never "not good enough" or condemned -- we are righteous! In fact, David said in Psalm 23:3,  "He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." So how does God restore our souls? Through Righteousness! At the end of Job, God restored to Job all that he had lost, including his health. God will make things right; the sun will shine again. James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him..." Later, James said (5:7-8), "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." Often, we can't see God in the midst of our situation. We don't understand why things happen, and we feel lost because of that. But James gives us a good piece of advice: be patient. Why? Because we have the hope that if we are patient, God will show up and make things right; He will give us the wisdom that we need in the situation - He is the ever present Help in time of need. Isaiah 32:17 states, "And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever." The other day, I read a passage in Job that really drove that home for me: "For He hears the cry of the afflicted; when He brings quietness, who then can bring trouble?" (Job 34:28b-29) When God quiets the storm saying, "Peace, be still," no one can take that away from you -- no matter how hard the storm is raging!

3) This last line really stuck out to me this time around: "Behold God works all these things, twice in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life." Jesus was in a pit, as it were -- a tomb -- for three days; on the third day He rose again. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12) Once again we see that Jesus is our ransom; He went down to the pit in our place. We don't have to feel as though we are in the pit of darkness and despair when everything around us is crashing down, for Jesus has given us life, light, and righteousness!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls." ~ 1 Peter 1:3-9 


  1. Very true! I honestly never knew before that there was so much in the big ole book of Job that we in the New Covenant can relate to and learn from! We look at Job and see that he was in such a state of desparation that he couldn't even think, however he blessed God. And we stop and think, "Hey, I'm not the only one with those problems!" Somehow, that's a comfort.


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