July 5 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit—let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless…” ~Job 31:5-6

In a final poetic flourish, Job silences his friends. Perhaps they realize that Job will not give in. Or maybe they recognize that their own integrity pales in comparison to his. After all, he has a solid record of wise choices and smart living. Whatever the cause, Job has won the argument (Job 32:1-3). And yet, this paragon is now a broken man sitting in ashes grieving, suffering, and asking why. His friends tried to pin the blame on some hidden sin, but Job knows this isn’t the case. He still looks in vain for a cause for his suffering, but at least he has successfully silenced his critics.

Or, perhaps not. A fourth friend, Elihu, enters the fray, having stood by listening and holding his tongue until now. Alas, his “wisdom” is more of the same. Surely there is some sin in Job’s life that is the cause of all this. No one is innocent before God! It is amazing how often people persist in error, specifically the false assumption that personal suffering must be rooted in some flaw of the person who is writhing in pain. In fact, it appears that the reason this drama is prolonged—the back and forth arguments, the repetition, Job’s constant denials of wrongdoing, his pleas for mercy, and now the addition of yet another relentless friend—is to show how ingrained this notion can be in the hearts of men. Some people simply will not be convinced that there may be reasons beyond personal sin for personal suffering. True, this is one of the causes, but it is not the only one. Any person who persists in thinking this way has committed the same error as Job’s friends.

There is mystery in this life because God does not always provide immediate explanations. Job’s friends make the strategic error of trying to reduce God—and life—to a set of simplistic theological explanations. God is too big for that. He will not be explained. He will only be worshipped.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.