By Pr.Steven Hynes
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
In the book of Job, we are given very clear evidence of when Job's physical problems began. They began when, after having destroyed Job's home and his wealth and killed all his children, Satan obtained permission from God to afflict him with a terrible siege of boils from head to foot. An awful series of painful, suppurating boils had turned him into a dreadful, revolting sight. This, of course, was shattering to Job's sense of self-esteem, and he groveled in the ash heap. The whole book is an account of how Job cries out in agony and despair week after week after week because of this. His friends come and torment him with accusations, blaming him for everything, so that he is mentally and physically tormented. But if you ask yourself, When did Job's pain stop? this verse is the only one which gives you the answer. God reversed the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends. Even during Job's great encounter with God, recorded in Chapters 40 and on, there is no mention there that his agony had ceased. He is asked all these searching questions by God, but he is still feeling the awful pain in his body. When he prays for his friends, however, it all ends.
That indicates that, in order for this to happen, Job has to deal with his natural resentment against these men. If we put ourselves in Job's place, we can understand how he must have felt. At best, he would see these men as a trio of self-righteous windbags who were just blowing hot air. At worst, Job would see them as a group of malicious slanderers who were out to destroy his reputation, because they accused him of things he never did, of attitudes he did not possess, of actions he never dreamed of doing. Those were the reasons for all his trouble, they said. They assaulted him, they insulted him, they outraged him. He had every right by natural standards to be angry, and upset, and bitter against these three so-called friends. But you cannot pray for somebody when you think of him in that way. To obey God, Job had to forgive these men. He had to set aside all the bitterness, the resentment and the anger he might have felt and deal with them as sinners, just like himself. That is the beauty of this passage, because the moment Job did that his own healing began.
Anger and bitterness always affect us. Holding a grudge against somebody destroys us. Jesus said this in several parables and stories in the New Testament. He clearly implied that, if we do not forgive others, we subject ourselves to a terrible inner torment that will not stop until we are willing to forgive. Paul says to the Ephesians that we are to be Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us that we are to forgive. Everywhere in the Scriptures there is this recognition that no healing can occur in our life until we forgive those who have offended us, hurt us and damaged us.
Lord, thank you that you are the God of truth. There is nothing hidden from you. Help me to remember that I am just as guilty as the ones I am angry at; that I have offended others and offended you in many ways and you have forgiven me. Because I am forgiven, grant to me the ability to extend a free and full forgiveness to others.
We have been immeasurably blessed with God's grace-gift of forgiveness, which is meant to be the gift that keeps on giving. Are we limiting the scope of God's tender mercies by failing to extend this grace-gift to others?