DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE JOB?


I have a confession to make.  Lately I have been struggling with rest.  If I were to grade myself on my spiritual life presently, I would give myself an A for surrender.  The Lord has worked on me and taught me much about surrender.  I have lived long enough to know that I might as well surrender. By that I mean, I've been on this earth long enough to know it's really dumb not to surrender to the One Who knows everything and has all the answers. Also, the Lord has done a great deal of heart work on me so that I WANT to surrender to my Lord of lords and King of kings.  But rest, I'm back to struggling with.

I've been in about a twenty year trial where I've experienced some of my worst nightmares.  I think now I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Looking back, I see all the work He has done in me through the trial and I see how necessary it was.  I see that the work was customized...it had to be the way He did it.  Isaiah 64: 8 says, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand. " (Emphasis mine). The Hebrew word for work is maaseh and means, "deed, work, undertaking, enterprise." Strong's says it can be "a product (specifically, a poem)." Isaiah 28 is a chapter that speaks of growing and maturing in the Word.  We don't immediately know and understand, but as we live and grow in the Word, we begin to understand, "precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little".  The chapter ends with the illustration of the plowman preparing the soil for the crops.  He doesn't just continue to plow all day, but just until it's ready for planting.  Everything is has an appointed place.  There is design and preparing.  Isaiah 28:26 says, "For He instructs him in right judgement, his God teaches him."  This reminds us of the perfect timing and wisdom of God's work in our lives. And so I say, "Thank You, Lord.  You've grown me, You've refined me.  You've opened my eyes to so many things I was blind to.  You brought me to a place where I hate my sin and what it did to my Savior, hopefully as much as You do.  You've taught me about endurance and perseverance.  You've taught me about who I am—my identity in Christ.  You've prioritized my life by showing me what really matters...things eternal vs. things temporal.  You've cut away every precious thing I held dear, to insure that You and only You are Number One on a list of one.  You've taught me Your word and etched it into my heart, mind and soul.  Though I have so very far to go,  I am not the person I use to be. You've done so much in my life.. Lord, how could I not be so grateful for all Your work?"

And yet I still struggle with rest.  Don't get me wrong.  I understand what rest is, and I've come into a certain rest.  But rest has many layers to understand.  There are many aspects of rest.  I believe, but I still struggle with unbelief.  I want to completely let go, but I just can't quite do it.  During my trial, the Lord has been so good to me to speak specifically to my prayers, taking me to passages that spoke directly to what I was asking.  I believe He has given me promises, yet I struggle with "Did He really give them to me, or was I just projecting my wants and wishes into these verses?"

I also struggle with why He allowed all the things I've had to live through.  This is at the core of my struggle.  I identify with Job when he  says, "For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him.  Therefore I am terrified at His presence; when I consider this, I am afraid of Him."  Job 23: 14-16.  If I'm honest, I like Job, am terrified when I consider what the Lord allowed in my life to do His work in me and what He might yet do.  As I said before, I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to go through this dark time in my life where He sifted, refined, cut away, sanded and shaped.  But I want it to be over.  I want Him to finish and set me free for a while.  I never want to have to go back to that place. But I don't want to be terrified.  I don't want to have any unbelief remaining.  I want to completely let go and truly rest in the arms of Jesus.  As usual, when I study the original Hebrew in this and other passages in the book of Job, I learn more of my blessed Savior and His intentions for me, and I am helped by His Word.

I will be using the New King James Version and Blue Letter Bible and Strong's Concordance for this study.

Let's begin with  Job 23: 1- 24: 1:  "Then Job answered and said:  'Even today my complaint is bitter; My hand is listless because of my groaning.  Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat!  I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.  I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me.  Would He contend with me in His great power?  No!  But He would take note of me.  There the upright could reason with Him, and I would be delivered forever from my Judge.  Look, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him;  when He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see HimBut He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.  My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.  I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.  But He is unique, and who can make Him change?  And whatever His soul desires, that He does.  For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him.  Therefore I am terrified at His presence; when I consider this, I am afraid of Him.  For God made my heart weak, and the Almighty terrifies me; because I was not cut off from the presence of darkness, and He did not hide deep darkness from my face.  Since times are not hidden from the Almighty, why do those who know Him see not His days?"  (Emphasis mine.)

One of the biggest problems when one experiences these times of seeming darkness, is where is God?  All of us who have been through the dark trials of the Christian life have experienced that time when God is silent or seems to be. We, like Job can feel separated from God, wondering why God is silent.  Job asks the important question in chapter 24: 1 "Since times are not hidden from the Almighty, why do those who know Him see not His days?"  I heard a Bible teacher explain that it's because God is patient and has His purpose in it.  He will see Job and us grow spiritually during those times, more than any other times.  Job acknowledges in verse 10 that this time of not being able to sense God's presence is the time of refinement where when He tests us, then we come out as gold.

Again,  if it was God's will that I endure all the things that I have endured, then why wouldn't I be a little terrified of the suffering that might be ahead of me? For me now, the bigger struggle is coming to grips, as Job did, with the fact we can't force God to turn away from His will, nor do we really want Him to, even if that means we must endure more affliction, if that is His will.  A closer look at the Hebrew in verse 14 will help.  "For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him."

The Hebrew word for performs is shalam and  means "to be in a covenant of peace, be at peace, to make peace, to cause to be at peace.  Strong's defines it as "to be safe (in mind, body or estate); figuratively, to be completed; by implication, to be friendly; by extension, to reciprocate:—make amends, end, finish, full, give again, make good, be at peace, that is perfect, perform, prosper, recompense, render, requite, make restitution, restore, reward."

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines it as:
   1.  to be whole, sound, safe (Job 22:21)
   2.  to be completed, finished, of a building (I Kings 7:51, Nehemiah 6:15)
   3.  to restore, as something purloined (Exodus 21: 36, Psalm 37:21)
   4.  to require a recompense (Psalm 62: 13)

The first mention of this word shalam is found in Genesis 44:4:  "When they had gone out of the city and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, "Get up, follow the men: and when you overtake them, say to them 'Why have you repaid (shalam) evil for good?'"  We know Joseph recognized and said later on in Genesis 50: 20 that what his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good.  It's that same principle in Job with the suffering that God allows is for our good.  Look back at the definition.  It's the idea of His covenant with us...of peace, to perfect, perform, make restitution and restore us.

The next Hebrew word in verse 14 to study is the word for appointed choq:
      I.  statute, ordinance, limit, something prescribed, due
           Aprescribed task
           B.  prescribed portion
           C.  action prescribed (for oneself), resolve
           D.  prescribed due
           E.  prescribed limit, boundary
           F.  enactment, decree, ordinance
                 i.  specific decree
                ii.  law in general
           G.  enactments, statues
                 i.  conditions
                ii.  enactments
               iii.  decrees
                iv.  civil enactments prescribed by God

Strong's Definition:  an enactment; hence, an appointment (of time, space, quantity labor or usage):—
appointed, bound, commandment, convenient, custom, decree(-d), due, law, measure, x necessary, ordinance (-nary), portion, set time, statute, task.

Choq is from the root word chaqaq which means to cut out, decree, inscribe, set, engrave, inscribe, to hack, i.e. engrave (Judges 5: 14, to be a scribe simply); by implication, to enact (laws being cut in stone or metal tablets in primitive times) or (generally) prescribe:— appoint, decree, governor, grave, lawgiver, note, pourtray, print, set.

Looking at these definitions, what leaps out at me is prescribed in task, portion and limit and boundary. It's something prescribed by God for me.  A prescription.  Our Great Physician has prescribed something for us that is going to be part of our sanctification process which leads to our perfection, not as in being perfect, but complete.  (We know from Colossians 2: 10 that we are positionally complete in Christ, but experiencially we must go through the sanctification process to be conformed to His image.) But this prescribed appointment has a boundary, a limit.  It doesn't go on forever.  I'm beginning to rest a bit, just seeing the deeper meaning of these two words.  But there's more.

Job 23: 15:  "Therefore I am terrified at His presence; when I consider this, I am afraid of Him."
The Hebrew word for "therefore I am terrified" is bahal and means "to disturb, alarm, terrify, hurry, be disturbed, be anxious, be afraid, be hurried, be nervous, to be disturbed, dismayed, terrified, anxious, to be in haste, be hasty.

The Hebrew word for His presence is a familiar word if you have read many of our studies.  It is paniym and it basically means "face to face".  It's the word used in Exodus 33:11 where we read that the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.  A Messianic Rabbi told me that a way to express its meaning is  "without riddle".  I am reminded also, that we are ALWAYS in His presence.  He is with us in every trial, every thing He allows in our lives.  We don't go through anything alone.  He is there with us always and will NEVER forsake us.  That is why we can rest.

The Hebrew word for "when I consider" is biyn and means "to discern, understand, consider, to show oneself discerning or attentive, consider diligently.

The Hebrew word for "I am afraid" is pachad and means "to be in dread, to be in awe."
Strong's Definition: to be startled; hence, to fear in general:—be afraid, stand in awe, fear, make to shake.   It's the same word used in Job 3:25 "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me."  And though it is a different Hebrew word, I'm reminded of Psalm 111: 10 that tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The picture that is developed here is that the more we suffer, the more we go through, our eyes are opened wider to understanding the Lord and seeing things from a different perspective, His perspective.  If the Lord allowed us to stay in our comfortable little worlds, we wouldn't truly know Him. We would only know of that small little world.  We have to be put in positions where we grope for Him, wrestle with Him, cry out to Him.  We need to come to a point where we are terrified of the One True Living and Sovereign God.  When our feeble minds begin to grapple with Who He is, it can make our knees shake.  But at the same time that we are learning about His awesome power and sovereignty, we learn more about His checed.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite passages that in Psalm 138: 7-8: "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.  The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;  Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the works of Your hands."

Let's look at three Hebrew words found in this passage:  Yehovah gamar checed.
Lord                Yehovah  "the existing One, the proper name of the one true God.
Will perfect     gamar    "to end, come to an end, complete, cease, to come to end.
Mercy             checed   goodness, kindness, faithfulness, beauty, favour, lovingkindness.

I am told that we don't have a word that fully captures what checed means.  It is that covenantal love that the Father has for us with goodness and kindness and mercy rolled into it.

The Psalmist captures my heart here.  I know the Lord will perfect His plan for me.  I know I am in His hands.  I know His mercy checed is more than I can wrap my mind around.  I do not want Him to forsake the works of His hands with me.  I want Him to do His work in me.  So more terrifying for me than what He has allowed in my life, is for Him to not do what needs to be done.  I want Him to complete the work that He began in me.  Prescriptions can be very unpleasant, but necessary to make us well.  Without it we could get sicker and die.

I am reminded of two more passages.  The first is Romans 8: 28-29 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."  He doesn't make everything work out for a fairy tale ending, but He works things together for our good in order for us to be conformed to the image of His Son.  That is what He is concerned about.

The second is Jeremiah 29: 11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a  hope."  I'm reminded that it's His plan for me, not my plan to try to get Him to make happen.  While I struggle with my suffering, the greater realization is that I want to stand before Him one day, knowing that I rested in Him to do His plan in my life, no matter what that looks like.  Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.

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