I Reject My Words

I’ve always been afraid of the book of Job.

I’m afraid of Job’s story, the way I’m afraid of Abraham’s, and Mary’s, and the disciples’. I’m afraid the cost of following Jesus will be too much for me—unlike Abraham, who obeyed God and prepared his son for sacrifice; and Mary, who was willing to face scandal as an unwed mother; and Jesus’s first disciples, most of whom died as martyrs. I’m afraid that, when faced with the sharp rock of suffering, my faith will shatter like glass. I don’t trust my flesh, which I know will fail. I’m afraid to live fully, to love completely, and trust wholly. I am afraid to suffer.

Of course, I have suffered a variety of wounds, as we all have. If there is a more common thread to humanity than suffering, I’m not sure I know it. And so Job’s story is, naturally, my story. And your story, and your neighbor’s story, and every member of your family’s story, and that person who served you coffee this morning’s story too. In chapter 42, Job’s story ends with the same stunningly beautiful conclusion we are all offered: repentance and restoration.

Job cries out, “I know that you can do anything.… I reject my words and am sorry for them” (Job 42:2,6). He knows that God is just, merciful, and mighty to save. Job doesn’t expect to be made whole, to have everything and everyone he’s lost restored. It is enough for Job to know that God is God and he is not, and to repent of his own pride.

In chapters 38–41, God speaks. He proclaims His power, His justice, His righteousness, and His sovereignty over all things. It’s a “mic drop” moment, one that needs no punctuation, no follow up. But after Job’s cry of repentance, God responds once more to Job in a manner so kind and lavish that we are compelled to react with just as much awe and wonder as we did when we read that He breathed all creation out of nothing. Yes, God is mighty, unrivaled in power. Yes, God is sovereign, unrivaled in His commitment to justice. But also, Yes, God is good, and He promises us bountiful restoration.

Job received restoration in his lifetime—his fortunes returned, his flocks and herds multiplied, his home filled with new children. Our suffering may not, and often does not, end with restoration in this life. Death wounds us, sickness steals from us, broken relationships limit our ability to trust, and tragedy on a global scale haunts even our happiest days. Our hope is not in the here and now. Ours is a future hope, formed and grounded in God’s Word, molded by His mercy, and secured by His Son.

We will experience the restoration and renewal of all things, as promised in Revelation 21:3–5. It is the only ending that makes sense to our stories of suffering, the kind and lavish response of a loving Father who promises, one day, to wipe every tear from our eyes.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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