Is God with me in my messed up Christmas?
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around my house, and I’m not talking twinkling lights or wafting gingerbread. No, it’s more like frenzied shoppers, tired momma’s, whiny kids, and spent dads. Truth, I didn’t want to blog at all, let alone talk about Job. I’m kinda all bah-humbug over here.
But then the song “Oh Come Immanuel” rang through the radio air waves. And I found myself on my knees, crying out for Messiah, longing to experience His glory and peaceful outpouring in the midst of this commercial madness and twisted list of expectations.
And I thought of Job.
Job, too, sat among frenzied chaos and shattered expectations. Everything he’d ever held as security, stability, and capability sailed away with the wind. With his friends ready to set him straight, the pressures to stay all shiny and nice were surmounting. He could feel it.
The air chilled and the light faded.
Eliphaz (the first of Job’s friends to speak) wastes no time in offering an explanation, in fact, he starts with an edge of mockery. In Job 4:6 he says “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?” And then in Job 5:17 he says “Blessed is the one whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” He has an edge of truth, yes, but he is applying the ‘if this ___ then this___ ‘ principal. He was plastering Job with the “keep it together” expectation. (I wouldn’t know anything about how that feels, you?)
Eliphaz didn’t know what he was talking about, in all honesty, I think he was uncomfortable with the lack of control in this whole ordeal. Job’s pile of ash really didn’t have anything to do with punishment or discipline. But we already know that. Job said in Chapter 3 verse 25 that what he had feared came true, what he dreaded happened. Remember how back in Chapter 1 he and his family would offer sacrifices to preserve their connection to God? I’m speculating a little, but I think Job feared loosing connection with Messiah more than he feared loosing stability, ability and security. He feared loosing God’s presence more than he feared loosing His blessing. The realities of his circumstances felt like God’s silence and that silence was far worse to him than death. Death would have at least ended this quiet torture.
I don’t know about you, but I am a creature of comfort. I like to be shiny and pretty for the comfort of others, it gives the illusion of control.
But in the struggle for present comfort its easy to miss the sound of His presence.
Throughout Job’s responses to the suffering and accusations, he has but one cry: for God to meet him. Job was crying out for an encounter. Nothing more, nothing less.
He, like ancient Israel, cried out for God’s presence. He longed for God to come and be with him in the storm. He wasn’t asking for easy street, He wasn’t seeking blessing. He just ached for the assurance of God’s presence.
Job reveals his heart: “Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose His hand and cut off my life! Then I would have the consolation — my joy in unrelenting pain — that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.” Job 6:8-10 Its as if Job is saying, “crush me God, I have not disowned or hidden You and I just want to know You are still here.”
Be it Mary in the midst of a census, clamoring over hills at the most inopportune time, giving birth in a barn with dung and hay and no midwife or be it Job painfully sitting the ashes of a crumbled life — encountering God has nothing to do with pretty circumstances. Perhaps God can be found in both the blessing and the suffering.
Regardless of the setting, Immanuel has come. God is in the storm, just as He is in the sunrise, and He has encounters prepared just for you.
This post is part of a series, Embers. Here we are walking through the book of Job. All scriptures are quoted from the NIV or the NLT, links to BibleGateway.com.