Cruising Route 66
“Living In the Squeeze”
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. Job 1:1-2
What do you think I would get from an orange if I were to squeeze it tightly? I doubt it would be grape juice, apple juice, or 30 weight oil. It would be orange juice. I would get what is on the inside, not what I hope is on the inside, nor what I want to be on the inside. I’m only going to get what is actually on the inside.
The Book of Job speaks of a man who finds himself in the squeeze, and what comes out is what is on the inside. We are introduced to a man of means who has been successful in life. He holds the respect of those around him. He has wealth and power. Life is good, but not for long.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” Job 1:13-17
Without warning Job finds himself financially ruined. His lifetime of work has gone up in smoke. His employees, the ones who would have helped him rebuild his empire, have all been murdered. It is times like these that men and woman have been known to self-destruct. All that their lives were dedicated to, all that gave them their value and esteem is suddenly gone. Then comes another visitor.
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” Job 1:18-19
Now he has lost his legacy, those who will carry on his name. His own beloved children, all of them, gone. In a matter of minutes, Job’s whole world crashed down around him. Here is a man who is being squeezed like few men ever have. It’s not orange juice that’s coming out, nor is it anger, complaint or accusation, but rather a unique heart of righteousness.
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job 1:20-22
Now if all this were not enough, if the attack upon his heart didn’t bring about enough grief lets drop in a good dose of physical pain.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. Job 2:7-8
If you ever had a boil you know how terribly painful it can be. Can you imagine boils, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet? Now not only is his heart broken, but so is his body. Covered in painful boils, Job stands beside ten freshly dug graves, and looks toward heaven. Why, what have I done? What have they done? The heavens remain mute. Raw, agonizing pain “groans” from the deepest of “soul wounds,” and no explanation comes. There is not one justifying reason uttered from on-high.
A voice is heard just to his right, as he overlooks the graves of his children – v. 2:9 – it’s Mrs. Job, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
Job is a man not unlike you or me. He has experienced success and failure. He knows the joy of a healthy family, and the heartbreak of a lost loved. He has felt the encouragement of reassuring words and the disheartened chill of a verbal assault. He knows how difficult it is for a body that is racked in pain to place its focus on what appears to be no hope at all.
Job is the story of a man who is dog paddling for all he is worth just off shore. Then he sees the exposed fin of despair moving around him. When he reaches out, not up, but out to his friends for help, the response he gets is, “Job, don’t let the fish eat you. Drowning is easier and less painful than living. Again, listen to Job’s response to his wife:
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:10
Notice what Job did not say, “OK, let’s just grin and bear it,” or ” this is my lot in life, woe is me.” He got a hold of a truth that is often missed in the blur of pain and tears. God is in control. Our understanding or approval of what is happening to us doesn’t diminish His sovereignty over our lives one bit.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:33-34
On February 15, 1947, Glenn Chambers, a young New Yorker, was on the final leg of his flight to Ecuador where he would serve as a missionary. While awaiting his flight in Miami, Glenn found a loose postage stamp in his bag. Picking up a piece of paper he found on the terminal floor he jotted a quick note to his mom.
“Mom, I love you. This may be the last time you will here from me for a while, but remember this, I’m in God’s presents, serving Him.” “Giving Jesus all I have – Glenn.”
On the day the letter arrived, Glenn’s mom went to get the mail. There she was met by a man who had come to notify her that her son’s flight crashed into the mountains above Bogota, Columbia. There were no survivors. She set the letter down, not reading it until the day of the funeral when she remembered it. The piece of paper Glenn used was an old advertisement with a single word written boldly on the back – WHY! Job asked the same question.
Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? Job 24:1
When life takes an unexpected and painful turn, and you like Job also ask why? Remember He is too kind to be cruel, too wise to make a mistake, and too deep to be explained. These simple truths may help relieve some of your burdens.
Until next time…