Lent Devotional: Job 13:20-28
by Jonathan Haefs
Job 13:20-28 (click here)
Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?
You put my feet in the stocks and watch all my paths; you set a limit for the soles of my feet. (Job 13:24 and 27)
Have you ever felt the paralyzing confusion of suffering?… the kind of pain that makes you run from everything and everyone in hopes of finding some kind comfort in solitude?
The confusion of suffering itself is evident in our mixing of metaphors.
Paralyzing pain… and yet we run.
The Bible is honest about this paradoxical experience. It is the exact kind of pain Job feels as he suffers for seemingly no reason at all. He cries out and asks the Lord why he hides his face from him… while simultaneously saying that the Lord watches all his paths… ruling over his pain.
God is absent… and yet present.
Job cries out that his feet are in stocks. He is imprisoned in his suffering. But, simultaneously he says talks about the paths on which he walks and the limits God has set over the steps he takes.
Job is in stocks… and yet walks the path of suffering.
Is God absent or present in Job’s pain? Is he in stocks or walking about? Is our pain paralyzing or are we running?
The Bible… God does not shrink back from the paradoxical answer all sufferers have experienced… YES. The answer is Yes.
Yes… God really feels absent to Job, and often to us. But, yes he is present… felt or not. Yes, Job is not in control of his suffering and neither are we… but yes God is in control and has promised Job and us that suffering will not be the final steps we take. Yes our pain is often paralyzing, and yes we often run from it and from God… but the greatest YES… the YES of the Gospel is that God has run to us!
Jesus Christ came to us… took on the heart of all our suffering upon the cross… defeated it… and now reigns over it!
So take heart dear Christian. No matter where you find yourself today… no matter if you feel paralyzed amidst pain or like the face of God is hidden from view… look upon the cross of Christ and know this is true… He came for you!
The suffering you feel right now is not final… he has already defeated it and guaranteed that suffering will not be the final steps you take. God will not always feel hidden… the clouds of suffering will part and we will feel the full force of his shining face upon us!
How can we be so sure? Because the cross is empty… and so is the tomb.
Pain couldn’t paralyze him… and through him, it won’t permanently paralyze you.
We are free and shall be free to run.