February 13, 2019
The conditions of this life are good in some sense, but miserable in others. The Lord Jesus taught that we should hate our lives. Some feel that Jesus was being poetic and using hyperbole in this lesson, but that is not totally true. The truth is, this life is filled with corruption, decay, and darkness. These are qualities that are contrary to the nature of God. Why should we embrace and cling to that which is contrary to God? Why should we not hate corruption? Why should we not despise decay? Why should we not loathe darkness? Though our flesh desires to cling to the affections of this life and this world, the Lord warns that this is a dangerous way of living. This is why He warned against storing treasures on earth where moths eat, rust destroys, and thieves break in and steal. God calls for His people to be eternally-minded. As God’s children, we are citizens of heaven and should long to be with our Savior where He has prepared a place for us. We should put our interests and stock into heavenly things where moth doesn’t eat, where rust doesn’t destroy, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. When we focus on the Lord and the eternal nature of His promises, forsaking the affections of this life, He begins to reveal the goodness of our eternal inheritance as well as the futility of this life.
One of the ways that God teaches this difficult lesson is through suffering. Job is a great example where God used circumstances of suffering to teach Job about the futility of this life. God used suffering to teach Job that the matters of this life are difficult and hopeless. God saw Job as a blameless and upright man, but wanted to teach Job about the value of the eternal inheritance that Job would get as a man of faith. God’s permission to the devil to torment Job wasn’t a signal of punishment. Though the devil may have felt that he was inflicting harmful pain, the Lord was using that pain to teach Job spiritual principles and build up his spiritual integrity. The tool that the enemy sought to use for evil, God was using for good by teaching Job to despise the weaknesses, corruptions, and darkness of this life. It is true that Job complained a lot about the extent of his suffering. Still, within those complaints, Job was learning about the true essence of this life so as to learn to value eternal life more highly.
In Job 7:1-6 the Bible shows that Job continued to explain to his friends how painful his suffering was. Job’s complaints seemed dramatic, but again, only on account of the extent of suffering he was subjected to. Job’s suffering was common in one sense, but exceptional in another sense. All people suffer to some degree, but Job’s suffering was unique to Job. This means that it is up to the individual to learn how to cope and properly deal with suffering in a manner that is common to God, even though our circumstances might be unique to our experience. God was effective to teach Job the lessons that he needed to learn, but Job’s struggles were compounded in that he was fixed on the difficulty of the lesson instead of the fruit of the teaching. When we dwell on the difficulties of our issues, the value of God’s teaching becomes diminished, and by extension, our suffering seems worse, sometimes as if God is our enemy instead of our Teacher, Healer, Redeemer, and Protector.
One of Job’s issues with his suffering is that it seemed to last forever in his perspective. Job 7:1-6 shows that Job was having a hard time dealing with the amount of time that his circumstances had remained the same, which made them seem like they were getting worse. Job recognized that life is filled with seasonal experiences – things have a beginning and an end. Job felt like the season of his suffering had no end. Job understood that everyone has to deal with “hard labor” for a time. A worker gets up in the morning and does their job until the end of the day. Yet, even the laborer and servant has a period in which the difficulty of their work ends. When the day ends, the labor ends, and the difficulty of it ends too. Job felt like the time of his difficult service and labor would not end. The “day-period” of his suffering was extended beyond normal and he was wilting away by the difficulty. This testimony shows that, when things are hard, the days do seem to get longer. Clocks move at the same pace. The planet doesn’t slow its rotation around the sun. Time doesn’t slow down for us, but the difficulty of our experience makes it seem as if these things are true. It is important to remember that our suffering doesn’t cause supernatural phenomena where time slows or stops. We are not that important. We are not that significant. We are merely one of billions of people suffering in the world today. When we focus on the difficulty of our circumstances, our minds have the ability to slow or freeze time, which cripples us from learning the things that God wants to teach while using time as His tool.
Job compared his suffering to the schedule and expectation of a hired man. A man is hired in the morning to do his work, and looks forward to the night time when his labor ceases, he can get his pay, and then get his rest to enjoy the fruits of his labor. A servant that works in the sun looks forward to the end of the day where shade becomes more accessible and they can rest from the heat of the sun. Job expressed that his circumstances felt like those benefits were elusive to him. First, since he felt like his “day-periods” were extended, the rest that comes to a worker in the night was not available to him. Job expressed extreme discontentment, saying that, though he hated the days that seemed extended, he also looked forward to them because he could not get rest at night. His physical condition caused him to be so uncomfortable that he tossed and turned in the night so that he could not sleep. Job specifically stated that his sleepless and restless nights were “appointed to him.” This suggests that as God appointed the devil to inflict pain, God also appointed sleepless nights to restrict comfort.
Some see this sort of language and become concerned. There is only reason for concern when we forget the ultimate purpose of God. Why should God teach about the supremacy of His eternal gifts and blessings if we don’t understand the futility of the affections of this life? Too often we waste time and energy pursuing affections of this life that fail to satisfy. God warned us to seek first the kingdom of God, but all people have fallen for the traps of this world. We think that getting what we want in this life will be everlasting joy and satisfaction. Then when we get a taste of what we want, we find bitterness in disappointment. Our expectations are never met. Is it worse to go through life in bitterness and disappointment until condemnation or to suffer in this life learning to appreciate the value of God’s eternal goodness unto His blessings in the kingdom? The Lord knows that, unless He reveals the true nature of this life, we will continue to pursue the affections of it unto our demise. Job suffered greatly in this lesson, but if the instruction produces eternal life, what is the real harm? Is God’s appointment of suffering so bad when we examine the results of His work? The surgeon inflicts pain and suffering for a time, but no one criticizes them because of the hope for a good outcome. God’s outcome is guaranteed, so how much more should we consider His “healing” with a sense of hope?
Job confessed that his weariness and suffering was compounded by the ways he was examining things. He felt useless because his physical condition kept him from working. So, while he suffered beyond the normal laborer, he was not able to do anything productive or satisfying. He felt his suffering was in vain and so he longed to die. When Job talked about his desire for rest in the night, he was speaking of his desire to die, feeling that was the only real way to escape the magnitude of suffering he was experiencing. In one sense, Job was being dramatic. God could have healed and restored him at any time – and later God did so. In another sense though, Job was absolutely right. No matter the extent of healing and restoration God brings in this life, this life still ends. This world is still corrupted, decaying, and is still filled with darkness. Our way of escape is not in fixing the world. That job is God’s, and His alone, set to be done in a particular way, at a particular time. Until then, this life doesn’t offer a quality of hope, peace, and rest that satisfies and quiets the soul. Even those who don’t suffer in the exact manner as Job, still suffer. What good are the affections of this life if they all produce the same result in the end?
Job stated that he had received his fill of suffering. He felt like he couldn’t go on much longer. Death was a glorious release from corruption and decay in his mind. The body that he once cared for was now the body that he loathed. It is amazing to see how quickly we can be proud of something, and then despise it shortly after, especially with the body. This life has a way of showing us how weak even the strongest people are. Powerful and able men and women are destroyed everyday by viruses and bacteria that can’t be seen with the naked eye. The prime of human life is always destroyed by the natural occurrences of aging. All of the things we once boasted of concerning our ability, always come to an end at some point so that the bodies we felt were a great tool and asset, become our greatest strain. Job complained about how the boils on his body had bred worms and worse sores. His skin was like ash and just falling from his limbs. His condition was extreme, but the point is well proved. This life is like a vapor. The things we deem as good come, and then they vanish quickly, leaving many dissatisfied in the end. Then, when all is said and done, we die.
This point is not inserted in the Bible to discourage God’s people – only to discourage attachment to that which will end. God is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining and His gifts and blessings are of the same nature. God warns us about the truth of this life through various trials to teach us to despise corruption, decay, and darkness because it is contrary to Him and His goodness. If we don’t despise the futility of this life, the futility of this life will cause us to be destroyed. When we listen to the words of Jesus, and learn to hate this life, putting our value and worth into heavenly things, life doesn’t get easier, but purposeful and hopeful. It’s hard to be dissatisfied and bitter when our expectations aren’t high for the things of this life. When we look to be satisfied by heavenly things, we can embrace the difficulties of this life, remembering that they don’t last forever, and that a quality of goodness awaits us in the arms of our Savior, such that can’t even be described. This is the lesson God sought to teach Job, and anyone else who has ears to hear.