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Clear Words

Clear Words – Out of despair (Job 7:17-18)

Today’s Reading: Job 5-8

Today’s Reflection: Job 7:17

What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him?

This is a bible text often quoted to emphasize the point that God holds mankind in high regard.  This is evident from many facts and statements in scripture: God created the earth then gave man and woman dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-29), perhaps even more amazing given that He knew man would fall to sin (Genesis 3).  We are also described as being ‘a little lower than the angels’ and ‘crowned with glory’ (Psalm 8:4-6, repeated in Hebrews 2:6-8).  God tells us He can never forget us, that He has engraved our names in the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:15-16).  These are incredible awe-inspiring promises that fill the believer with hope in times of trouble and distress.

But this text in particular, is not one of wonder and awe, but of deep despair.  Job, after having lost everything, surrounded by friends unable to understand his situation or offer him real comfort, and not having heard any response from God, feels his life has no hope.  And it is out of this feeling that Job asks these fateful questions of God: What is man that you think so highly of him and set your heart on him?  He follows by asking God, why do you visit man each day, and test him moment by moment (Job 7:18)?

Despite Job’s despair, these questions hit on essential truths about mankind’s relationship with God.  This teaches us something vital: there are some truths that may only be revealed to us in times of trial and tribulation.  We love to recount our hilltop experiences and no one likes to go through pain, but what happens in the valleys of disappointment, hurt and loss is equally important to building and shaping your faith, perhaps more so, than what happens in times of victory.

James 1:2-4 – 2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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