Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Have you ever expressed this cry from the book of Job in the Old Testament?
“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
Job’s longing to be published pumps from his very heart.
Words Formed in His Longing
This cry of Job could have been spoken by most writers. “Oh that my words were written!” “Oh that what I have to communicate were engraved in stone!” Are you driven by such a longing? You need such a driving desire to go through the difficulties and discouragements of writing.
Words Formed in His Suffering
What Job had to say was brought forth by overwhelming suffering. It must have been difficult for Job to understand how crucial his suffering was in the plan of God. I once heard Tim Keller say Job could not have understood that his experience and his words would still be seriously discussed by people five thousand years later.
Make no mistake, what Job discovered and was driven to say, was magnified by his suffering. God never explained to Job what readers of his book are told in the first chapter. But through his suffering Job still speaks to hearts of people to this day.
Words Formed in His Hope
In His suffering and the accusations of his friends Job became even more certain of his hope. His hope was not impersonal. He believed in his Redeemer. At this point Job still had no sense of the redemption or even the nearness of God. But he spoke with assurance about the personal Redeemer who would and will again stand upon this earth.
This week we drove along a Nevada highway where the cattle were free-ranged. And we saw no less than three animal carcasses on the side of the road. They were all partially consumed by scavengers. Job had boils all over his body and felt like his own final decay had begun. He knew he would die, although it did not happen as quickly as he probably assumed. But he knew that even after his flesh was destroyed he would rise again and see his Redeemer face to face.
Words Formed in His Assurance
Job cried out, “I know that my redeemer lives.” I sometimes hate to admit it, but I need a certain assurance, even arrogance to write what I have to say for publication. As a Christian writer much of what I write needs to come from assurance about God. Job's assurance came through suffering as it often does. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis called pain God's megaphone.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
It is important for a writer to understand that God not only speaks to you in your suffering, but he will speak to others through your suffering.
Words Formed in His Grace
Job's friends were convinced that Job's suffering came to him because of some secret sin. When Job denied this, they countered with the truth that no man can be righteous before God. It is not surprising to me that the strongest source of this information came from a demon spirit. Job 4:15 reads,
“A Spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up.”
And verses 17 through 19 repeat just what we would expect from the one the Book of Revelation calls the Accuser of our brothers.
“Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error. How much more those who dwell and houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth?”
Job does not deny this reality. Instead he tells them he believes in the grace that God will provide through his Redeemer, who is Our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are made right with God because of His great grace.
Words Formed in His Presence
Job speaks as one who doesn't feel the presence of God. Yet he affirms his conviction that the day will come when he will see him face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 repeats this same promise.
“Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
By the end of the book God speaks clearly to Job. And Job repents of his pride in dust and ashes.
But even here Job is overwhelmed, and says his heart faints.
Words Formed in His Purpose
Generally in the Bible the word, heart, refers to the center of one's whole being. But this place the word that is translated, heart, is a word for reins like the reins of a horse. When he says, “My heart faints within me,” he is saying, “The direction of my life is overwhelmed by this.” He is saying again, “Oh that my words were inscribed in a book.” He's driven by the purpose that is welling up in him.