My ears had heard of you; but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:5-6 NIV
The story of Job is the most famous story of suffering in human history. It is so intense and heart-wrenching that it is almost unbelievable. How could someone endure so much pain? He experienced the loss of his children, the loss of wealth and position in society, severe physical illness, despair, and bewilderment, abandonment by his wife, accusations, humiliation, loneliness, and a profound crisis of faith. In his loneliness he kept questioning God: Why? He kept remembering his past glorious life—he had had the respect of everyone, he had had his children around him, he had lived in luxury, he had given to the poor, he had lived a gracious and generous life, and more importantly, he had felt the favor of God was on his household. He thought things would never change! He thought he would live a comfortable life until he died (vv.18-20) but God had a different plan!
God had blessed Job immensely and knew that he was a faithful man. He knew he could trust Job with the severest of pain and knew that in his faithfulness, Job would glorify Him. God knew that Satan was no match for the faith that He had placed in Job’s heart. But God also knew that Job had a lot more to learn about who His God was. Job had known God only from the mountaintops. Now, it was time to get to know Him in the valleys. Job had to learn about God’s grace being sufficient in the darkest of times to sustain him. Job had to learn that he could not count on his best friends or even his wife to stand by him when the toughest time came. Job had to learn that there are mysteries in life and there are unanswered questions, which in spite of his wisdom he could not comprehend. Job had to learn about the majesty and glory and the awesome might of His God, who cannot be manipulated or be bent to our desires.
So Job cried out for God, but seemingly there was no answer. In fact, God replied in accordance with His free will, His pleasure, and His perfect timing. Job had to learn about the darkness and misery of life when God’s face is hidden. But finally God spoke! And when He spoke it was humbling! It crushed Job’s pride and sense of self-importance. God made Job come face to face with His glory and majesty and might.
God healed Job and blessed him again and even more, but not before he had learned the lesson that God lovingly had preordained for him. Job finally came to his knees and confessed that now he had finally come to know God in a real sense: For before his afflictions his ears had heard of God, but he had never seen Him the way he saw Him in the deepest valleys of his life. This humbled him! In awe of God’s sovereignty and majesty, Job confessed: Now, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. Finally, Job was truly healed!