It is easy to be thankful when things are going well. We can see GOD’s goodness and kindness in the provision that is around us. But what about when we suffer? Have you ever thought that suffering is a tool that GOD can use? He doesn’t make us suffer but He will use it to reach out to us.
Elihu is coming to the end of his argument when he says, ‘He [GOD] is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.’ Job 36:16
This one verse is not spoken when Job is doing well and in a place of prosperity when he can look back at what he has been through, but is spoken when he is still in the midst of it. Elihu doesn’t want Job to miss out on the voice and blessing of GOD in this place, in this moment, because of his suffering. He wants the compassion and mercy of GOD to speak louder and be more real than the circumstances that Job is in.
Sometimes the language of the Bible captures my attention. This term of wooing is one such time. It isn’t a term used commonly anymore but we associate it with romance and capturing the person of your dreams. But it is more than that, the dictionaries talk about seeking to gain or winning the heart. So to be wooed means that the woo-er, GOD in this instance, seeks to gain and win our hearts from the jaws of distress. GOD’s wooing isn’t about rushing in like a knight in shining armour, grabbing the princess and riding off into the sunset but He is someone who wants us to do something about our rescue too. He woos us. He wants our hearts and want us to allow our hearts to be won over.
The thing is, humans can have a habit to wallow in self-pity. Mankind has done it from the start. It isn’t pretty! We might want others to notice us, to not be so happy about their good fortune or to have sympathy for our situation over theirs. But what is influencing our behaviour? GOD’s desire is for our hearts to be wooed to the spacious place, the place with a different view. If we are unable to move our hearts from the jaws of distress we are preferring something other than GOD. It is a stark reality to think that wallowing could be reigning in our hearts. Yuck!
GOD’s plan for us, even in our suffering, is to be won by Him. He doesn’t want us to be in ‘the jaws of distress’ but woos us to a spacious place.
What does this spacious place offer that the jaws of distress can’t?
Spacious – it has ample or more than enough space …!
Free from restriction – what restricts you right now? Well, that is not in the spacious place!
To the comfort of your table laden with food – this reminds me of the part in Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. It lacks nothing and has all that you need to sustain you. Even the term laden describes a more than enough situation and a feast.
This spacious place is where GOD woos us … why would we choose to stay in the jaws of distress when He offers this? The jaws of distress is the inferior reality to the the superior reality of the spacious place. GOD is so merciful that He would choose to woo you to the spacious place. That is where He wants you to be, free from what hinders you!