When You Break Down the Barriers
For the longest time, I never thought I would see the other side of my depression. Especially when I was in deepest. During that time, my girlfriend of 3 years dumped me, my pastor I’d grown up listening to and adored passed away, I was failing college, and I was in a job that made me so miserable the only way I felt better was writing lyrics about how I felt. It got so bad, I started thinking about how people in my life would feel if I’d never existed, or just faded away. Around that time though, those lyrics I had written finally came to have a purpose because God helped me find a band to join. It may have been a short lived adventure, but I cherish those days as the therapy it was for me. I bled out the unhealthy emotions that had begun to dwell within my heart through those lyrics until it wasn’t helping anymore.
In today’s devotional, we will conclude the book of Job. The story of Job is complex, beautiful, and I await to reread this book again to uncover more wisdom hidden within this book. We have reached Job 32, and are now meeting Elihu. I heavily encourage you take the time to read from Chapter 32 to the end, but I will hit the key verses that stuck out to me in understanding this story better. Elihu arrives to rebuke Job for his missteps in his arguments and intentions within the debate between Job and the three men of understanding. Elihu waited up until this point out of respect of age, and because the three friends had become discouraged in debating any further.
Elihu’s first acknowledgement of faultiness in Job’s mourning is shown in Job 33: 8-22.
Job 33: 8-22 NASB: “8 Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words: 9 ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. 10 ‘Behold, He invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy. 11 ‘He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.’ 12 “Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, For God is greater than man. 13 “Why do you complain against Him That He does not give an account of all His doings? 14 “Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol. 19 “Man is also chastened with pain on his bed, And with unceasing complaint in his bones; 20 So that his life loathes bread, And his soul favorite food. 21 “His flesh wastes away from sight, And his bones which were not seen stick out. 22 “Then his soul draws near to the pit, And his life to those who bring death.”
Job may be a faithful follower of God, but he did make accusations that God was not on his side. Elihu points out these flaws on Job’s logic so Job may understand where he has faltered in his discussion. It is a great detail to point out because how often do we get paranoid, and start to wonder whether what God is planning is for our benefit? This is a common problem I ran into in my thought process while depressed.
If you aren’t convinced when reading through here that Elihu cares about Job, I have a couple verses to show his intent was for Job’s benefit. Job 33: 31-33 NASB: “Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; Then if you have anything to say, answer me; Speak for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; Keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” I didn’t notice his intentions as good to start out because all his other friends we read the speeches of are jaded and convinced Job is wicked. In further delving though, I found Elihu to be a great friend to Job. “Speak for I desire to justify you” is the phrase that opened my eyes once I looked into the Hebrew word justify originates from in this context. The Hebrew word is Tsadaq. In this context, it means “turn to righteousness.” Elihu cares deeply enough about Job to help him turn to righteousness.
Elihu next points out that Job’s pride has become a barrier between himself and God. This happens in Job 35. Job’s pride has caused him a lack of understanding towards man, especially ones he deems to be wicked. We see this iterated in Job 24. Elihu gives proof that God doesn’t ignore wrongs, and doesn’t just allow the wicked to roam free. You can find the evidence in Job 36: 5-33. An important detail we can take from this is to not generalize and judge our fellow man. We are to help them understand why we ask repentance of our sins. Sin separates us from YHWH, and YHWH doesn’t want to be separated from His creation.
In Job 37, Elihu concludes his speech by bringing the voice of God back into the attention of Job. Then, in Job 38-39, God asks Job if he knows all the grand, minute details that were put into this life. To make His point to Job, God then asks Job a question in Job 40:2 NASB: “‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let Him who reproves God answer it.’” Job’s passion and wisdom are clear throughout this book, but along the way, Job began to question God. Asking God a question and questioning God are different beasts. Job 40:4-5 NASB: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add no more.” This is how Job responds after YHWH shows Job the error of his ways. God then further speaks of His power, asking Job if he too, can do all these things. Job confesses that he is incapable of doing these things, admitting he didn’t understand the gravity of his proclamations, and repented. God is even merciful enough to extend forgiveness to Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz, if they choose to repent of the words they spoke against The Lord.
After all of this was completed, God restored Job’s fortunes. Job lived a blessed life with many children, and got to see his grandchildren. Job got through a time of trial and tribulation that I cannot begin to fathom the pain he must have gone through. He did not make it through by his own doing, but God’s doing. Personally, my spiritual depression did not cease until I repented. I may not have started the depression outright, but I set up barriers between myself and God over time. It was through repentance that God helped me tear down those walls, and help me rebuild my life. My challenge for you today is to take some time to look inward, and find what barriers you may have built up between yourself and God. Repent of them, and start to see how your perspective on life begins to be built on love.
My song suggestion for today is “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.