The Voice of Job

O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

— Job 14: 13-15

When I speak of rights, I do not mean merits—of any sort. We can deserve from God nothing at all, in the sense of any right proceeding from ourselves. All our rights are such with which the bounty of love inconceivable has glorified our being—rights so deep, so high, that their satisfaction cannot be given until we long for them with our deepest desire. The giver of them came to men, lived with men, and died by the hands of men, that they might possess these rights abundantly. Our rights have God himself at the heart of them. But as to deserving, that is absurd; he had to die to make us listen and receive. 

But, lest it should be possible that any unchildlike soul might, in arrogance and ignorance, think to stand upon his rights against God, and demand of him this or that after the will of the flesh, I will say this: He has a claim on God, a divine claim, for any pain, disappointment, or misery that would help to show him to himself as the fool he is; he has a claim to be punished, to be spared not one pang that may urge him towards repentance; yea, he has a claim to be sent out into the outer darkness, whether what we call hell, or something speechlessly worse, if nothing less will do. He has a claim to be compelled to repent; to have one after another of the sharp-toothed sheepdogs of the great shepherd sent after him, until he comes to see that nothing will ease his pain, nothing make a life worth having, but the presence of the living God within him.


by Oswald Chambers

Not long before his death, Chambers (who greatly admired MacDonald) gave a series of lectures on Job to soldiers stationed in Egypt during WWI. His wife took careful notes, and turned those lectures into the book Baffled to Fight Better: Job and the Problem of Suffering. An excerpt from the book is presented below.

Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
— Job 23:3-4
There is no reality without struggling. If you are not called to wrestle, it is only because the wrestling is being done for you.
— Dr. Forsythe

The reason the experience of redemption is so easy is because it cost God so much. If my religion slips easily into my life it is because someone else has paid the price for it. If, however, the simple experience is taken as true to the whole of life, we will be misled; only if we take the experience of those who have paid the price for us, do we get to reality. It is men like Job and the apostle Paul who bring us to the basis of things, not the average Christian among us, who knows no more why the basis of his salvation is redemption than the average common-sense man knows the basis of ordinary human life. We must get hold of the great souls, the men who have been hard hit and have gone to the basis of things, and whose experiences have been preserved of us by God, that we may know where we stand...

Job's cry "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" is the birth of evangelical prayer on the basis of redemption. The "finding" cannot be by reasoning or by religious faith; the only way to find God is through prayer. In the religious life of the Pharisee, prayer becomes a rite, a ceremony. In all religion based on sound principles prayer is an exercise, a ceremony; it is not blood or passion, not actually from the whole man. In such prayers there is a magnificently beautiful diction which one needs to be in a calm, quiet state of mind to appreciate. The most beautiful prayers are prayers that are rites, but they are apt to be mere repetition, and not of the nature of reality. There is no sting in them, no tremendous grip of a man face to face with things. There is no way out by rites or by religious beliefs, but only , as Jesus Christ indicates, by prayer...

There are undoubtedly things which present a puzzle, for example, the presentation of the basis of redemption; how am I going to understand whether the redemption covers everything, or only partially covers? Never by reasoning, only by prayer; and as sure as God is God you will get the answer and know certainly. If we take the line of disputing and spitting fire like Eliphaz did, we will get a nothing. We do not get insight by struggling, but by going to God in prayer. Most of us are wise in our own ideas; we have notions of our own which we want to see through. There is nothing to be valued more highly than to have people praying for us; God links up His power in answer to their prayers. 

Redemption is easy to experience because it cost God everything, and if I am going to be regenerated it is going to cost me something. I have to give up my right to myself. I have deliberately to accept into myself something that will fight for all it is worth, something that will war against the desires of the flesh, and that will ask me to go into identification with the death of Jesus Christ, and these things produce a struggle in me. The majority of us prefer to get up and ride rather than to "get out and shove." It is only the people who "get out and shove" who really make things go. The men who are up against things just now and who are determined to get at reality at all costs, and will not accept a thing on the religious line unless that line states reality--these are the men who are paying the price of the next generation. The reason we are here in the natural world is because our mothers struggled for our existence; and the more unhindered the birth pangs, the stronger and healthier the child. A thing is worth just what it costs.