In our study of Job chapter ten, we look at the causes and effects of despair as well as seeing how it is prevented in the life of a Christian.
'I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free reign to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.'
In chapter nine, we saw that Job looked for someone that could stand between God and himself and act as a "go-between" but he did not find anyone that could do so. As a result, we see that Job is feeling what is known as despair which is basically defined as the complete absence of hope. This lack of hope is causing him to not care about his life and to even lodge a complaint against God.
'I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked?'
This despair leads Job to basically demand that God explain why He is doing these things to him. Have you ever wondered "why bad things happen to good people"? That is what Job is feeling and wanting to ask God and, since he has no hope of anyone speaking on his behalf, he wants an answer directly from God. We see that Job is not thinking clearly as his physical suffering and lack of hope has clouded the fact that he is guilty of sin. He has been accused of "major sin" by his friends and he knows that that is not the case but he has lost sight of the fact that ALL sin is detestable to God. This is a reminder to us that there are appropriate times for debating the finer points of theology but that is not when someone is in the middle of a crisis and suffering. All Job had needed from his friends was a reassurance of hope in the goodness of God but, instead, they tried to give him a lesson in sin and punishment. As Christians, we must ask ourselves whether we act like Job's friends when we see others in crisis or do we act like Jesus and show them that there is hope.
'Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?'
Have you ever heard someone say: "you don't know what it is like to be in my shoes"? That is what Job is saying to God in this verse. We see that the despair that Job is feeling is clouding his thinking and he is basically telling the Creator of the universe that He does not know what it is like to be a mere man. In doing so, Job is forgetting that the Creator knows everything about the way that His creation functions. We must also remember that Job does not have the same history that we have to look back on and strengthen his faith. We know that God took the form of a man in His Son Jesus Christ but Job had no idea that that was a part of the Creator's plan.
'Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a strong man, that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin - though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand?'
In effect, Job is basically asking God if He does not have anything better to do than to bother Job. He goes on to assert his innocence but, once again, Job has lost sight of the fact that the very act of questioning God's justice and mercy is a sin caused by pride. In this pride, Job makes it sound like God has to really do some long searching to find something against him to justify what he sees as this punishment from God. He begins to defend himself but what he really needs is a dose of humility and that can only be attained through experience. Up to this point, Job has had hope in a religion (his own works) but, now that that hope has been taken away, he is in a position where he can begin to see that his only true hope comes from the work of God. At the heart of humility is the realization that we do not have the power to do something for ourselves. Job is getting to this point but only after he has gone into the valley of despair.
'Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.'
Job remembers the fact that God is the Creator of all things but he begins to question whether God will continue to watch over him or not. It is good to remember that God is the Creator but we must also remember that He is our Sustainer and nothing would continue unless it was allowed by Him. Job is in this deep valley of despair because he has forgotten the fact that, as God's children, He is there with us in every situation and struggle that we face.
'But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished.'
It seems like the devil has Job right where he wants him as Job begins questioning the motives and goodness of God. This is a religious attitude and many people still see God in this manner today. There are many religious people that see God as someone that is constantly watching them and ready to beat them down because of the fact that they do not measure up to the standards set by God. The fact of the matter is that we do not have to live up to the standard as Jesus has already done that on our behalf. When we forget that, we too can end up in the valley of despair and begin to question the very nature of God. Like Job, that is exactly where the devil wants us to be. This is a reminder to us that religion will not prepare you to face the struggles of this life. It is only through a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ that we will be able to hold tight to His goodness instead of slipping into the valley of despair.
'If I am guilty - woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction.'
Job now questions the justice of God as he basically says that whether he is guilty or innocent the result is still the same. Job laments about the fact that he is disgraced because he went from being a very rich man to now having nothing. The same type of thing is common today as many equate material wealth with the blessing and favor of God. We remember that the conditions that Job was experiencing are not due to a lack of favor or a judgment from God. He is simply being tested and we can be tested by being given much to see what we will do with it or we can be tested with having just what we need to see how we will trust God. Once again, it seems like the devil has Job exactly where he wants him.
'If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave.'
Job goes even further as he accuses God of waiting to pounce on him when he messed up much like a lion pounces on its prey. Job thinks that the reason this is happening is so that God can demonstrate how great and powerful He is. Job has forgotten the fact that the very existence of everything is the greatest demonstration of His power. That is a very big difference between the way that God operates and the way that the devil operates. God demonstrates His power through creation and sustaining His creation while the devil can only demonstrate his power to kill and destroy. Job continues his travel in the valley of despair as he sees no end in sight to the waves of perceived judgment flowing down on him.
'Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!'
Job is now at the bottom of the valley of despair where, once again, he wishes that he had never been born.This depression (lack of hope) is a favorite tool of the devil as he tries to separate us from God and make us feel like we are alone and without hope. This feeling can be especially bad for the believer as others can make them feel like they are lacking in their faith just because they cannot put a smile on their faces and pretend that everything is just fine. Many times, when there should be a lifting up and reminding the depressed about the hope that we have in Jesus, there is instead an air of judgment. As we have seen with Job's "friends" so far, they have not comforted him or reminded him of the hope that he has in God.
'Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment's joy before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.'
Job has hit bottom as he asks God to just leave him alone for his last little bit of time before he dies. Job is talking about a place that the Jews called the grave which was a holding place for those that had died before Jesus Christ. Upon His death, Jesus went there to take all who believed in Him to heaven. We know this but Job knew nothing about the promise of Jesus taking away our sins. All that he knew that he could do was to wait and hope in the holding place. Today, the believer that dies on this earth is transported to be with Jesus in heaven while those that have rejected Him go to this holding place (the grave) to wait for judgment.