Focus changes things. If you focus the rays of the sun they transform from merely warmth and light to something quite powerful. When you concentrate and focus water-drops, they can cut through steel. When you focus eyes using corrective lenses (glasses), you see clearly. When Habitat For Humanity focuses dozens of construction professionals and willing amateurs in one location, a home can be built in as little as one day.
When my eyes focus on something far away, the things that are near lose their clarity – they lose focus. Conversely when I focus on something nearby, that which is far away loses clarity and becomes peripheral noise.
Today I noticed something about the book of Job I had not noticed before. I was focusing on the verses, individually, intently, trying to find hidden nuggets of truth in them. However, if I shift my focus to the entire book I see another picture. I see a macro view vs. a micro view.
The character of Job is introduced as follows.
There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. Job 1:1
That tells me two things, he had no unconfessed sin in his life, and he lived his life righteously. A little later there is another aspect of Job’s character revealed.
Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice. – Job 1:4b
Job regularly prayed for others.
Then calamity came on him. He cries out to God, but where is the praying for others? It does not reappear until the last chapter.
Now take seven young bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not been right in what you said about me, as my servant Job was.”
So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the LORD commanded them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. – Job 42:8-9
Notice that God essentially told the trio of discouragers to ask Job to pray for them. He didn’t want to hear from them. (Sorry, I started down a bunny-trail.)
Look at the result of Job’s prayer.
When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! – Job 42:10
It makes me wonder; what if Job had prayed for his friends earlier? What if he had continued his practice of doing good for others, instead of sitting and moaning? What if he had refocused? What if by doing as much as he could, with what he had left, on behalf of others, he would have altered what he saw around him? And what if he had prayed for…?
Lord, my I remember to pray for others. Please forgive me for focusing on myself and my issues as often as I do. May I live my life in a way that does not block the path of your blessing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
p.s. Another interesting thing in this chapter, and the preceding few, was that God only reprimanded four out of the five. Elihu, Obviousman, was not addressed by God at all. Apparently, even though he was quite redundant, he was right.