Desperation and Prayer: Job

In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson states that “To be human is to be in trouble.  Job’s anguish is our epigraph: ‘Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.’  Suffering is pain plus the awareness that our own worth as people is threatened, that our own value as creatures made in the dignity of God is called into question, that our own destiny as eternal souls is jeopardized.  Are we to be, finally nothing?  Are we to be discarded?”

The book of Job is cosmic theatre involving scenes from heaven and earth – sometimes simultaneously.  The natures of God and man, pain and suffering, faith and doubt, death and resurrection, and creation and redemption all find representation and expression.

Specifically, suffering is set squarely, openly and passionately before God.  It is acknowledged and expressed, held up and proclaimed, analyzed and debated…and prayed.  Suffering, though, is never ultimate.  It is never the bottom line.  God is at the foundation, and He is at the boundaries.  The believer decides to face and to live through the suffering because God is not indifferent or rejecting or ambivalent, and He does nothing arbitrarily.  This God-follower is convinced that God’s way with us is that of reconciliation, restoration and redemption.

Explore further with the following suggestions:

  • Where is God When it Hurts by Philip Yancey
  • A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser
  • The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis
  • The Gospel According to Job by Mike Mason
  • Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharis
  • Surprised by Suffering by RC Sproul

“Evening, morning, and noon I cry out and He hears me.”  In the next post we will look at the language of prayer in the Psalms.