I remember reading the book of Job in AP English in high school (bet that doesn’t happen anymore!) as a literary study. Even though I wasn’t a Christian at the time, this book had a profound impact on me. I remembered Job’s suffering and perseverance for many years. It was literally the only book of the Bible I had read and I probably only knew of maybe 10-12 Biblical figures until I became a Christian at age 30. So, this book has always had special meaning to me.
In this section, Bildad and Job are going back and forth and then Zophar joins the fray in chapter 20.
Some of it goes like this (Bildad):
2“How long before you stop talking?
Speak sense if you want us to answer!
3Do you think we are mere animals?
Do you think we are stupid?
4You may tear out your hair in anger,
but will that destroy the earth?
Will it make the rocks tremble?Job 18:2-4, NLT
Nice guy huh? With friends like these, who needs enemies? Were these really the same guys who sat there in silence for their friend? It sure seems hard to believe.
Job stays steadfast in his responses, and they go something like the below:
“How long will you torture me?
How long will you try to crush me with your words?
3You have already insulted me ten times.
You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.
4Even if I have sinned,
that is my concern, not yours.
5You think you’re better than I am,
using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.
6But it is God who has wronged me,
capturing me in his net.Job 19:2-6, NLT
It is clear that Job is having none of it from these guys. He knows his own heart and isn’t in the mood for their spite. His rebuke then turns to despair:
‘“My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn’t come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me. I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth. ‘Job 19:13-20, NLT
I struggle to imagine a point where everyone who is important to me is either dead or turning their back on me like what Job was experiencing. I cannot even imagine this level of hurt and despair. Yet, Job shows such incredible resilience and strength in the face of all of this.
I think that is what struck me as a 17 year old and someone who had really never been introduced to the Bible. I was awed by this man who had no idea that God was allowing this to happen to him and yet he stayed strong and never cursed God throughout all of this. I admired the strength that he showed and wanted to show this kind of resolve in my own life. I am not sure I have ever showed the strength and resolve that Job did without completely losing my cool at some point. I hope to one day mature enough to handle a tough situation with others like Job did – to not take false accusations and push back on them with logic, strength, and wisdom; yet still recognize my own weakness and call out to God to guide me and strengthen me.
Dear Lord, I pray that you strengthen all of us when our lives fall apart, either of our own doing or if you are sending us a wake up call. Let us handle our critics with grace and with courage to not back down to false accusations. Let us remain strong and true in our belief in You. We may have times ahead, as it states in Revelation, that we will endure more persecution as a people. Let us keep this book in our minds and hearts if and when those days come. In Jesus’s name, Amen!