“And the LORD said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further. . . . Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to Me.’ I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
– Job 40:1-5; 42:1-6 (ESV)
Have you ever felt like a failure before? Ever felt like all the control you had over everything just seemed to absolutely vanish under the right (or what you might consider the wrong) circumstances? I don’t believe I would need to see a show of hands or list of comments in reply, to know that most honest people will admit to feeling like they have failed at something or some things in their lives before. In the Christian life, we can find ourselves trying to do everything perfectly just to seem like we are doing well to others. We can take a shot at different ministry ideas and see them tank within months; we can commit to reading the Bible through in a year and after six months realize we’ve only made it half way through Genesis; or we can make a promise to God that we will pray more than we have in the past, but realize that we are still only praying when we think we need something, or when stuff goes contrary to our wants.
Feel encouraged yet? Well, probably not. But understand this. The Christian life is not something that we conquer. The Christian life is not hard and difficult. It’s impossible. When we become willing to admit it, we can confess together that on our own accord, we will absolutely fail all day, every day at being the perfect Christian.
The story of Job is one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture. Now the pronunciation of Job rhymes with robe, not rob. Job, the Scriptures say, was a righteous man. He was not perfect though. In case you don’t know the story, here is a short summary. God allowed Satan to tempt Job in every way he wished apart from taking Job’s life. He was stripped of everything, his children, his health, his wealth. His wife was left, but even that wasn’t really much of a gift as she just told him to curse God and die. Job refused to take his wife’s advice in this situation, but eventually he broke and questioned the ways of God, along with scrutinizing God’s reasoning for allowing such circumstances to take place in his life. One of the greatest passages in Scripture is where God responds to Job. (It is too long to really go into depth together here, but I encourage you to take a look at Job, chapters 38 and 39 sometime.)
God rebukes Job for trying to act like he is worthy of anything, and Job responds in a very subtle way. His first response is the first section of our focus text. He admits there that he now considers himself to be of small account (insignificant). God, in His rebuke, also asked Job several questions that were impossible to answer. In fact, if you read God’s response, you can hear some remarks coming from our Creator (Job 38:4-5; 19-21) that are kind of funny to read and well, pretty humiliating to Job. But once Job gives his first little account back to God, round two begins.
In God’s second response to Job, He speaks in the same kind of way, asking questions that He knows Job is unable to answer, and therefore puts him where he belongs, feeling unworthy even to be receiving air. Once God finishes this time, we read Job’s final response, which is the second part of our focus text. This is where Job repents.
Through the trials of Job’s life, God was glorified. The story ends with Job exalting his Creator over all things, realizing that no plan of His can ever be thwarted or altered. This is a good place for us to be as well. It is good for us to acknowledge to God what He has always known. He is in control, we are not. That is why we should “let go of false control.” Though we like to think that we have our plans and schedules all arranged to perfection, we must confess that God’s ways will always trump our own.
It is the fame of God that should be what is most important to us as His people. We cannot live our lives to magnify our own glory. That would be idolatry, for we don’t even have any glory or righteousness apart from God. We have been created by our Father to be His children, His worshipers. And even though we have made other things our god, we want and desire for God to use us for His fame and for His glory. We understand from passages like Isaiah 64:6; Luke 18:9-14; Romans 3:23, 5:15; Ephesians 2:1-10; Philippians 3:8-9; and Titus 3:3-7 that we couldn’t be any less worthy of this honor and privilege, but by God’s grace He loves us and we will still gather together, lift our hands, and sing to the Lord, declaring affection for and proclaiming the glory, honor, and adoration that He alone deserves. So may we beg God to continue to use us for His glorious fame.
Because I have tried to follow and I have tried to lead; in the end, I have failed at everything. I have been the very culprit I hate in the vain pursuing my own selfish desires, making everything but Christ my king. I couldn’t be any less worthy to spend one day, much less forever with our God.
So, I must lay low to the ground and raise my hands just as I am. I must let go of false control. I should lift my voice and proclaim His worth, for I have nothing to offer. My life is already Christ’s, and it is actually tender mercy that He would use me, even in suffering, for His fame.
I have not seen heaven, I haven’t even seen His face, but I assure you, that I’ve seen and felt His Spirit move. And it is amazing, the evidence of grace displayed all around this world. I’m merely a product of mercy, having accomplished nothing good on my own; rather I am a target and victim of Jesus Christ’s perfect love.
So I must raise my hands in desperation, just as I am. I must let go of false control, for my life belongs to Jesus, for Him to use me for His fame, to joyfully tell others about His great love. I should overflow with joy as I strive to let every breath proclaim glory to God’s great name.
Jesus’ love and mercy cannot be contained, and any of us that experience it will never be the same. So let us all raise our hands, just as we are. We are all equally in need of Him, laid equally bare before the cross. Let us have the faith to let go of this false illusion of control. That we would feel it deeply in our hearts, know it well in our minds, and lift our voices, declaring our lives belong to Christ; that He would use us for His own praiseworthy, deserving, and unending fame.