"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 Him. But 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” (Job 23:8-11).
As Job continues to struggle with the pain of the heartache of having lost his children, his health and his possessions, he still has to bear listening to the wild accusations of his friends who have wrongfully concluded that Job suffering is the result of God’s chastening him for his sins. Job’s friend Eliphaz says, “"Is it because of your fear of Him that He corrects you, and enters into judgment with you? Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end? For you have taken pledges from your brother for no reason and stripped the naked of their clothing. You have not given the weary water to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry” (Job 22:4-7). Without any basis for doing so, he charges Job with taking advantage of other’s misfortune and refusing to help the poor.
I can only imagine how distressing it had to be for Job to hear such things from his “friends”. While Job continues to endure all that he is facing, he describes himself as groping about searching for answers. As the opening verses above indicate, he searches forward, backward, to the left, and to the right and cannot find God (Job 23:8-9). He is trying desperately to see how God is working on his behalf to assist him through this terrible crisis. Not only is he unable to figure out how God is supporting him through these events, he cannot even find God at all. He feels abandoned by God!
I can look back on my life and see multiple times when I believed God worked on my behalf. For example, many years ago when I was in the Navy I had fallen away from God and missed most church services. After a while, I repented and made a commitment to start attending every church service I could. I showed up at church on a Wednesday night. On this particular night, I met a girl at church named Sharon. December 15, 2017 was our 29th anniversary. I believe God worked on my behalf to provide for me a godly wife to encourage me to keep faithful to the Lord.
When we have gone through a particular trial and been delivered from it, many times we are able to look back through the eye of faith and understand how God helped us. What is very difficult is being able to see God’s efforts on our behalf while we are in the midst of the trial. Often when in the midst of a trial, I feel like Job. I search trying to see how God is working for me to help me through the adversity I am facing. Unfortunately, often not only do I not see how God is trying to support me through the trial, I don’t see God at all. Like Job I feel a strong temptation to feel abandoned by God!
To Job’s great credit, even though he did not see how God was helping him, nor was he able to find God at all, Job was determined to remain true to God during the storm he was enduring: “But 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” (Job 23:10-11). Today, I will strive to follow Job’s example and remain true to God whenever I cannot see either Him or cannot grasp how he is assisting me when I am facing adversity. Like Job, I pray I may come forth as gold!
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).