When I think of the jaws of distress, I see that scene from the 1970’s classic movie: Jaws. The boat is broken and Chief Brody is at his wit’s end and has no idea what is about to happen. Suddenly, out of the water comes that monstrous shark with huge jaws and bloody teeth. I will tell you that it scared me to death when I was a kid. I did not want to get anywhere near an ocean for a long time.
The jaws of distress in my mind would be a horrible place that I would never want to be and would not wish upon anyone. But this is the place where Job found himself. He was in the jaws of distress. When we first think about Job’s plight, it would be easy to see the jaws of distress as the sudden and catastrophic events in Job’s life where he first lost all of his wealth and then his own children died. This was followed by a horrifying disease where boils covered his body. His wife scorned him on top of all of this. And if this is what is being described as the jaws of distress, then I can easily agree with that description.
But digging deeper, we see that this description comes from Job’s friend, Elihu. The purpose of Elihu’s discourse here is to bring understanding to what has happened to Job. His other three friends had told Job repeatedly that this suffering was the result of his rebellion against God in some way that he now needed to confess. Job maintained that he had not sinned and in his perceived innocence, he questioned the justice of God. Neither were right and Elihu was now setting the record straight and he explains the purpose of the suffering that God has allowed is for the purpose of ‘wooing’ Job out of the jaws of distress. Whoa! Don’t read too quickly, you’ll miss it. The suffering was not the jaws of distress, the suffering was God’s way of ‘wooing’ Job out of the life he had before the suffering began.
OMG!(I never use that, but just thought I would throw it in:) What did Elihu just say!?! Elihu is describing Job’s highly blessed life as the jaws of distress. The King James Version of the Bible translates the jaws of distress as the ‘strait.’ Elihu is telling Job that the life he had before the suffering began was considered by God to be a strait. Well, what’s a strait? A strait is a narrow path. It is like walking through a cut in the Earth between two mountains, one on each side of you. It is restrictive. It is narrow. Elihu goes on to say that God is wanting to bring Job out of the strait into a spacious, broad place. Through Elihu, God is trying to help Job understand that the life he had before his suffering began was like a strait compared to what God wanted to do in his life.
We see at the end of the story the broad, spacious place that God brought Job into. He was blessed even greater than before.
Elihu points out that though Job did not have a spirit of rebellion and that he had not committed sin, he was not perfect. Within his spirit, there was some self-righteousness. It was true that he was blameless as God had called him, but he was so blameless that he began to trust his own righteousness to a certain degree rather than trusting in the righteousness of God given to him. He acted as if he was righteous instead of a recipient of the righteousness of God. This outlook was limiting what God could do in His life. As wonderful as his life was before, it was restricted by the self-righteousness within and the Lord was ‘wooing’ him out of that jaw of distress.
What does God want to do in your life? His word says that it is beyond what we can imagine (1 Corinthians 9:2). This is a wonderful thought. No matter where you stand today, the possibilities with God are endless. When suffering comes into your life, keep your faith, learn the lessons being taught. Find the plan that God has for you. It is an ever-increasing plan that will render us speechless over and over again to the glory of God. He is a good Father wanting to give you more than you can imagine.
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