Job: A Painful Example of Desperate Dependency
God assigned Job the painful job of being an example of desperate dependency amid plenty and loss. Our lives are driven by the desire to be successful, and many viewed the life of Job as being a grand success with his ten children, leadership positions, and vast possessions. But when Job was stripped of the people, positions, and possessions, his friends and neighbors would have been hard-pressed to label him as a success while he sat on the ash heap mourning his unspeakable losses. However, God does not define success in the same manner we perceive it.
“The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7 NLT
God’s Definition of Success
In the books of Kings and Chronicles, each king is evaluated based on his commitment to God. Either “he did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight,” or “he did what was evil in the LORD’s sight.” Job’s success stemmed from his commitment and willingness to submit to the Lord unreservedly.
This is how Job’s story begins.
Take a moment to read the story’s context in Job 1:1–5.
Reading the introduction to Job, we see he is a man who exhibited a relevant relationship with God. Submitting faithfully to God, he lived consumed by his connection to God. Every facet of his existence and the concerns of his heart evidenced a dependency on Elohim and an authentic desire to please Him. The community recognized Job as a man who was blameless, full of integrity, and one who feared God and stayed away from evil.
Choosing God for Better or for Worse
God was intricately involved in Job’s life because Job invited God into his life. Although we may not readily embrace this truth, when we invite Christ into our lives, it is for better or for worse. The invitation for God to become part of our lives grants Him permission to transform our sinfulness into godliness through whatever means He deems necessary. God’s divine enabling shaped Job’s identity, molding a lifestyle that had a profound influence on his society and moved people to take note of God.
Because God was central in Job’s life, Job also cared about his children’s relationship with God. As a natural outgrowth of his passion, Job wanted his children to possess what was most important to him—a relationship with Elohim. He did not build his life around his kids, but he endeavored to build his children’s lives around God. Party conversations most assuredly remembered, “Dad sure will work hard tomorrow to intercede with God on our behalf!” They significantly encountered God through their father’s influence.
Job chose to be an example of desperate dependency.
Relating to God became natural because a relationship with God was essential to Job. Reverence for God infiltrated every aspect of his being, polarizing him from his pagan culture and prioritizing his existence into the image of God. Desperate to be dependent on the One he most revered, the defining aspect of Job’s connection was fear that exhibited awe for the One who sustained him. Job’s emotional makeup reflected his spiritual connection. He was not anxious about life because he lived in fear of his Lord.
More than religiously acquainted with God, Job was relationally involved with Him. God altered Job’s moods. God commanded Job’s interests. And God occupied Job’s thoughts. Additionally, Job’s heart sought God. Job’s soul reverenced God. And God was worshiped by Job’s being. All Job came to be was shaped by his relational connection to God. Hence, God reported that Job was unlike anyone else on the earth.
Father God bragged on His boy.
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”Job 1:8 NLT
Proudly, Father God bragged on His boy. Such a relationship could never have been casually contrived but instead nurtured and developed by profound experience based on a deep connection of trust and dependency.
Can Father God brag about you? God loves you because you are His creation. But can He brag on you because you are His delight? You may say you know God loves you, but how do you conduct your life differently because you know God loves you? Do you express your love for Him through gratitude? God loves you so much He has a well-orchestrated plan designed for your life so that you will come into a closer relationship with Him and glorify Him. But are you unreservedly willing to allow Him to accomplish His plan in your life even if it means there would be a book written about your tragic life?
Job was an example of desperate dependency.
Satan acknowledged a blessed estate existing between God and Job. God knew Job possessed an authentic, trusting relationship, but Satan was not convinced.
Read on in the story in Job 1:9–19.
At this point in the story, every fiber of our being stands in judgment against God, casting dispersion on His name. “If You love me, why would You allow this to happen?” Hardly can God be understood while being weighed in the balance of our pain. Yet, in His love, God uses suffering as a platform to convey the depths of His sovereignty. God will save us. And God will sustain us. God will promote our best interest. But His ways are beyond our comprehension. It is through suffering that we learn to rely on Him. Our trials become an example of the sufficiency of Christ. The beauty of His heart becomes the bounty of our lives as we encounter Him and His faithfulness.
In this vein, God uses Job as tangible evidence to illustrate the truth about Himself. In the depths of despair, God develops the capacity for us to live beyond ourselves through His grace, which, practically understood, is the power to live supplied by God. Job’s dire situation produced desperate dependency upon God and facilitated communion with God in response to his loss and suffering. Job had already given everything to God, so it was not without his permission that God followed through to use Job as He desired.
God knew Job would be an excellent example of desperate dependency.
What happened next? Read Job 1:20–22.
Job assumed God’s sovereign involvement in the course of life that he could not control. In Job’s mind, God was present in his suffering, but God’s will was ascribed to it. In response to his grief, Job asserted a benediction of blessing to the Lord. But in his tragedy, Job worshipped while submitting to God’s sovereign right to rule over his person, positions, and possessions.
Even though Job suffered tremendous loss, Father God could still brag about His boy again.
Keep reading to be reminded of what God did next in Job 2:3–10.
Job tried to understand the truth about God.
The moral character of God held Job constant even though his mortal condition was utterly in chaos. Overwhelmed by his limitations, he could only find comfort in total self-abandonment through trust.
Delimited by his dependency, Job had no other choice but to interpret the nature of his anguish through the moral attributes of a holy, righteous, just, and good God who is full of truth. All of Job’s philosophical ponderings, including his frustration and confusion, were delineated by his dependence on God, making him more desperate than ever. In Job’s agony, his dilemma was to consistently understand life’s new normal with the truth about God.
Unaided by mortals, Job found comfort in the truth of God and confessed that he had not denied God’s truth.
“At least I can take comfort in this:Job 6:10 NLT
Despite the pain,
I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”
Contrary to popular belief, God’s plans may include,
“I, too, have been assigned months of futility,Job 7:3 NLT
long and weary nights of misery.”
Job struggled to be an example of desperate dependency.
With no one else to turn to, Job’s suffering launched him into uncharted territory as he encountered God. For better or worse, Job saw God as his only course of action. His previous experiences with God had not educated Job about the nature of this encounter. Hence Job cried out to God, seeking to reconcile this version of life with what he did not understand about God.
Within his confusion and frustration, Job’s humility prompted a deeper connection with God through contemplation. In this contemplation, he considered God’s unfathomable essence and righteousness. Read about it in Job 9:2–4.
Frightened by God’s rule of supremacy and thwarted by His transcendence, Job recognized he could not manipulate God. Read what Job said in Job 9:14–16.
Through deeper humility came deeper dependency.
None of the greatest human defense mechanisms—including pretense, denial, or disassociation—would work to manage the depths of Job’s suffering. Left with the honest reality of his great torment and the actuality of the anguish he could not escape, he protested his predicament.
“I am disgusted with my life.Job 10:1 NLT
Let me complain freely.
My bitter soul must complain.”
“I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—Job 10:2 NLT
tell me the charge you are bringing against me.”
Job believed God desired a relationship with him.
Because of Job’s intimate relationship with God, he desired to know the heart of God. He maintained his trust that God also desired a relationship with him throughout his ordeal. Believing this, Job was convinced that if he had done something wrong, God would reveal it to him. Therefore, Job maintained a close connection with God.
“Yet my friends laugh at me,Job 12:4 NLT
for I call on God and expect an answer.
I am a just and blameless man,
yet they laugh at me.”
Disorientated, Job could not walk away, but he also found it intolerable to stay bound by the shackles of suffering and pain as he loathed even his next breath. Yet he clung to God desperately, as one fearful of losing his grasp upon Him. Job knew that comprehending the nature of his suffering ultimately was beyond the range of his human ability. How could a mere man understand that which is from God’s hand?
Just let me complain.
Dialoging with God establishes a foundation where healing can begin. Job chose to communicate with the language of complaint to connect his wounded soul to his Sustainer. He was not condemned for relating in honesty and truth with purity. Persistent in trust, though faced with the temptation to mutiny against his Lord and his own disquieted soul, Job postured to magnify God even though in the language of complaint. His desire was not to be insubordinate. He came with an attitude of a soul prostrate before God, searching for the ability to trust. Even amid his paradigm of dependency, the crisis moved him beyond his maturity.
“But true wisdom and power are found in God;Job 12:13 NLT
counsel and understanding are his.”
God was perfecting Job’s relationship with Him.
More than just an experience with suffering, God was perfecting Job’s relationship with Him. In the kiln of trials, we must yield as God conforms us to the image of His Son. In the dark places, the metal of a relationship is hammered into the form God desires. Crisis ignited the flame, which provided the necessary heat to forge Job into a deeper desperate dependency on God. Suffering draped the backdrop and created the context and the impetus through which purification could occur. God views our limitations not in terms of how much we can withstand but in terms of what it will take to bring His children closer to Him and produce His likeness within us simultaneously.
You may ask, “How do I interpret suffering in the light of an all-powerful God who is sovereign?” Without understanding how everything fits in the construct of his life, Job depended on the truth that God is good. This allowed Job to cry out to God in reverent fear with the hope of receiving mercy. How does this suffering coincide with the goodness of God? Job’s line of questioning did not doubt God’s moral character but in deference to His righteous character. “Why are these things happening in light of who You are?”
Job’s friends did not understand desperate dependency.
Plagued with pain and persecuted by false accusations, Job’s plight was amplified by well-meaning comforters who did not understand the ways of God and could not discern the will of God in Job’s life. They had no concept that God was using Job as an example of desperate dependency. It is a tremendous responsibility to attempt to speak for God. Unfortunately, these friends did not have an intimate relationship with God that enabled them to relay God’s messages to Job accurately. Those who assumed they comprehended God robbed Job of consolation.
“I have heard all this before.Job 16:2 NLT
What miserable comforters you are!”
Disappointed by his miserable comforters, Job sought the face of God more desperately.
“My friends scorn me,Job 16:20 NLT
but I pour out my tears to God.”
Job chose to be an example of desperate dependency.
While Job’s counselors judged him according to circumstances, Job judged himself according to God’s Word. His integrity was not based on his subjective belief that he was good. Still, he held tightly to his faith in Elohim’s provision of atoning forgiveness, His process of providing holiness, and His persistent, caring connection. Amid accusation, opposition, and suffering, Job rendered judgment on his friends also based on the words of God’s truth. In Job’s mind, only God could be right.
During his complaint, Job came to clarity. What God has willed cannot be overruled by reasoning. Instead, what God has determined must be trusted. Job had no other rational option than to desperately depend upon the reality that the arms of God holding him in a loving embrace surrounded his pain and anguish.
Job tenaciously affirmed his desperate dependency on God with prophetic enlightenment in Job 19:23–27.
The Faithful Example of Desperate Dependency
Although his crisis was still unresolved, Job clung to the faithful justice of God. Read on in Job 23:2–7.
Unable to sense, experience, or discern the presence of God amid his calamity, Job was confident God had not lost him and was sure that at the completion of God’s plan, Job would be purified.
“But he knows where I am going.Job 23:10 NLT
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”
Thwarted by lack of experience, Job could not find God relevant to his crisis. Never before had Job’s friends been exposed to the suffering of the righteous. They had to contend with how to reconcile tragedy with their limited understanding of God. The missing pieces prevented them from conceiving that calamity could befall the godly. But Job believed that the best choice is to trust Him. Job 23:13–14
God proves He is trustworthy.
Before God could enlighten Job and his counselors to more excellent knowledge of who He is, He first had to remind them of who they were. So, God answered Job from a whirlwind to produce the trauma of truth in Job 38:1–3. God’s voice coming from a whirlwind was disturbing enough, but then came the barrage of unanswerable questions.
God is the only one who can answer all questions, but He is not obligated to do so. Only God can adequately deal with the answers to all questions. We must succumb to trusting Him. He always knows best. Job agrees in Job 42:1–6.
God is relevant to every area of life.
After a fresh encounter with God and His sovereignty, Job could see with new eyes the awesomeness of God. God is relevant to every area of life because He alone “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT). Instead of striving to understand why we should endeavor to know who God is. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, we can move more easily past the barriers that obstruct a trusting relationship.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32 NLT
Pawns on the Chessboard of the Master
Perhaps we are pawns on the chessboard of the Master, but we can choose to be participants and be confident that He has placed us as part of His strategic plan. Our sovereign God designates each person’s position—some to be kings, some to be queens, and others to be bishops, knights, and pawns. But we are all mere servants of our great God and stewards of the ministry of Jesus Christ. In God’s government, even kings are pawns. He sets them up and takes them down to accomplish His purposes. God can do whatever He wants, and, yes, we are supposed to be okay with that.
Are you willing to live for the glory of God? Many will equate this question with achieving excellence. Yes, they proclaim, I will be successful for His glory. However, God’s definition of success is submitting faithfully to God’s plan for the purpose of glorifying Him. God created and designed you so He could be in a relationship with you. Everything that happens is to lead you into a deeper relationship with Him. Are you ready for that kind of adventure? Are you prepared to be an example of desperate dependency like Job?
Psalm 63: An Example Prayer of Desperate Dependency
Psalm 63 is an example of prayer demonstrating desperate dependency. Although King David wrote this Psalm, we can certainly picture Job praying a similar prayer. This psalm was chosen to provide a model designed by God, showing ways we can approach Him in a desperately dependent fashion. Use Psalms Prayer Patterns to pour out your heart to God while acknowledging your weakness and His strength as you grow deeper in your relationship with Him.
- Have I given God permission to use me however He desires?
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Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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