Read: Job 42:7
Job may be the oldest book in the Bible. It is also one of the most difficult to interpret and apply. There are many good lessons to be taken from it, and Stott helps us walk the path of insight in relation to suffering.
For today, I will expand that idea and propose that the book’s broader purpose is to show us how to live in the presence of Mystery–one type of which is suffering.
For one thing, we are to probe the deepest recesses of our own heart, as Job did. We are to maintain our stability on the basis of the best we know about ourselves. Job’s tenacity is not a sign of pride; it’s a sign of living from the surest sense of integrity that he had.
Second, we must live in relation to the best overall sense of God that we have. The present moment threatens to re-define who we think God is. But faith is not defined by what’s happening in a given moment or in a specific experience. It is based upon “the whole story” that we have about God. Job continued to cling to a larger picture than his own suffering was providing.
Third, we must avoid trying to “explain” the reason things are happening. Life cannot be squeezed into brain-sized compartments. We simply cannot figure things out, and when we try to do so—like Job’s comforters—we make judgments and draw conclusions that are simply false.
Finally, we must “live the questions” (as Frederick Buechner has said it), and we must accept the inevitability of having to “dwell in the Mystery” as we go through life. Jesus did this in the Garden of Gethsemani when he prayed for the cup of suffering to pass from him, but went on to say, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”
“Nevertheless” is one of the most powerful words we can ever utter. Sometimes, it is the only word that can keep us from being destroyed by our suffering.