Most of the book of Job consists of the back and forth dialogue between Job and his three friends. Strange as it may seem, Job’s pain and grief is only compounded by the fact that his friends decide it best to help him by sermonizing. Job tells them in chapter 13, “As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all. Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!” In other words, they did not have the whole story. Their perspective on Job’s suffering was limited. Their counsel fell short because it did not have all the facts. They made the assumption that suffering is reserved only for the wicked and never for the righteous. They would have been more comfort to Job had they just simply continued to sit with him in silence instead of trying to rationalize his pain. Let this be a lesson to us when our friends experience times of crisis. We easily compound the misery of those who are suffering by our lack of empathy and compassion. There are times when people need our shoulder more than they need our sermons.
Not only is the perspective of Job’s friends limited, but Job himself has a limited perspective on his own pain. He is not privileged to know what we know when we read his life story. From Job’s point of view, there is no purpose behind his pain, and he does not understand why God is allowing it. So great is his pain and so intense is his agony that he feels he is but one step away from death itself. He says in 17:1, “My spirit is broken, my days are extinct, the graveyard is ready for me.” A few verses later, he says, “My days are past, and my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart.” From his perspective, he has come to the end of his life. He is convinced that his best days were behind him. However, his perspective was limited.
This same is true for me and you. Because we are finite, time bound creatures, it should come as no surprise to us that our perspective on the situations we find ourselves in can be skewed. A good illustration of this is a “winding road.” I come from an area in western North Carolina known for its “switchbacks,” which are nothing more than curves on a mountain road that are so sharp you can almost see your rear end out of the corner of your eye. With a winding road, you never know what is just around the next curve. However, if you are on top of the mountain looking down at the same winding road, you can see every detail of it for miles and miles. Life is a lot like that. Our perspective on life is in the middle of a curve, but God sits high above on the mountain. He sees the end from the beginning, and He is weaving together all the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life into a tapestry of grace. The gospel gives much needed perspective.
A sovereign God is the One who will write the rest of Job’s story. He’ll do the same for mine and yours. Trust Him!