Job 22-23: Does God notice my suffering?
JOB ARTWORK USED BY PERMISSION COURTESY OF KINGSTONE COMICS (https://kingstone.co/)
In Job 22 Eliphaz the Temanite starts with a semi-positive message that if Job will just humbly repent, all will be well again. God will bring favor to him. Does God gain by a man’s righteousness? Eliphaz asks (v. 3). The question seems rhetorical but he goes on to say in effect, “Who knows but one thing is sure, that doing good benefits man.”
But as Rabbi Kushner says of what follows, “Suddenly we find Eliphaz saying, Job, you are the worst person who ever lived, exploiting the poor and the needy. No wonder God sees fit to punish you.”
Eliphaz exhorts Job (v. 21-26): “Be close to Him and wholehearted; Good things will come to you thereby. Accept instruction from His mouth; Lay up His words in your heart. If you return to Shaddai you will be restored, If you banish iniquity from your tent; If you regard treasure as dirt, Ophir-gold as stones of the wadi, And Shaddai be your treasure . . .
(v. 27) You will pray to Him, and He will listen to you, And you will pay your vows.
(v. 29) For He saves the humble. He will deliver the guilty; He will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
In chapter 23, Job may be replying to Eliphaz but his attention is turned toward the apparent silence of God, how it seems no matter where Job turns, God is not there. This is a tragic statement that is the opposite of the psalmist who knows that wherever he goes, God is there.
Here Job says, 23:8, “But if I go East—He is not there;
West—I still do not perceive Him;
North—since He is concealed, I do not behold Him;
South—He is hidden, and I cannot see Him.
He salves himself v. 10 by saying, “But He knows the way I take; Would He assay me, I should emerge pure as gold.”
Have you ever wondered, “What’s the use of even trying? It doesn’t seem to help in this neighborhood, this church, this family, this world?” Take five minutes to sit in this question and respond to your feelings and thoughts about it.
LORD, “What’s the use of even trying to be good?” Sometimes it seems the ruthless prosper and the ruth-full, the kind, the respectful, the good man like Botham Shem Jean, just get shot in their homes! Do good guys finish last in this world? What does it help to do good in this world where ruthless people focus more on the “criminal” than “justice” in the idea of criminal justice. Where is justice? Why do the evil prosper and the good face such difficulties in this world?
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.