The Touching Prayer
"I will say unto God: Do not condemn me; show me why you contend with me!" Job 10:2
Let us glance at the patriarch's state of mind. Communion with God was suspended; he could not perceive the presence, nor enjoy fellowship with Jehovah. He cried--but obtained no answer; he questioned--but there was no manifestation of sympathy. The painful correction of a Father's rod were experienced--he was smitten in his property, in his body, in his friendship, and what was worse, in his soul. He thought his God had become cruel unto him. Darkness surrounded him, gloom presided over his spirit, and despondency preyed upon his soul. Temptations vexed him, and the fiery darts of Satan inflamed and tortured his mind.
He reflected upon the past--but it only increased his distress;
he looked forward to the future--but he saw no way of escape;
he looked up to Heaven--but God hid His face from him;
he looked within--but all was perplexity and misery there!
His soul was cast down within him, and he was afraid of all his troubles. He longed for death--but it fled from him; and everything seemed intended to deepen his distress. No one had so much patience--and no one had so much need for it; for no one was so much tried. He knew not the cause of his sufferings--and his friends falsely accused him; and amidst the whole he was panting for deliverance and restoration.
He saw the hand of God, and said, "It is the Lord!" He at times condemned himself, and sought relief at the throne of grace; but one thing above all others he feared--lest his God should condemn him. "I will say unto God, Do not condemn me." Do not account me wicked. Do not separate me from yourself. Do not always refuse me your presence. Do not unite the curse to my afflictions! "Cast me not away from your presence." "Show me why you contend with me!"
Afflictions sometimes indicate that God is displeased, that our way is perverse before Him. By trials, He contends with us for His own right, and against our improper conduct. To have a controversy with God, is always painful, and sometimes very distressing. But there is always a cause; if God afflicts--it is . . .
1. to reprove as, or
2. to prevent our falling into sin by self-dependence, or
3. to purify us and make us partakers of His holiness.
A godly man in affliction will endeavor to search out the cause, in order that he may confess it, obtain pardon, and forsake it.
This subject affords us important instruction. If a holy man, like Job, dreaded divine condemnation--then how much more may sinners; and how fearful and dreadful it must be! To be condemned by God is, of all evils, the very greatest; and yet every one who does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, is so condemned.
Reader, are you condemned? Did you ever inquire into your state before God? Did you ever dread condemnation, and flee to Jesus to escape it? If not--then you are condemned.
The law condemns you for breaking its precepts.
The gospel condemns you for rejecting its claims, and refusing its provisions.
Conscience will condemn you; and if grace does not prevent it--will be like a living, gnawing, devouring worm at your vitals forever.
Condemned! What degradation! Condemned by God! Why, this is Satan's state himself! Condemned to be banished from God forever! This is the punishment of devils! Condemned to suffer the due desert of your crimes! Why, this will last through eternity, and must be inflicted upon every member and faculty of the entire man! Condemned, what! by a God of love, under the sound of the gospel! O misery of misery!
Condemned, and condemned for refusing mercy!
What madness must be in the heart,
what a pungency must this give to torment,
what fierceness must this give to the ever-burning flame!
Lost sinner! I beseech you--stop, think, believe, pray, repent, embrace the Savior--and escape such an awful doom! Stop this moment!
Think of your danger before you proceed another step;
believe the good news which God has sent you;
pray for pardon, peace, and life;
repent, of your folly, and
break off your sins by righteousness.
Tried believer! Follow this example set for you by afflicted Job, go and fall down before your God, and pray, "Do not condemn me, show me why you contend with me." It will . . .
ease your mind,
relieve your spirit, and
conduct you to deliverance and peace!