Why did Job Repent in Dust and Ashes?
Job was a righteous and a god-fearing man, yet he experienced great suffering in his life. After he lost is possessions, family, and health, he became overwhelmed with anger and pain. In spite of his trials, Job remained steadfast in his faith and his commitment to honoring God. Eventually, God responded to Job’s suffering and allowed him to learn firsthand why God had allowed him to endure such enormous hardship. As Job came to understand God’s lofty purposes, he humbled himself before God and repented in dust and ashes.
An Abiding Faith
Job’s faith in God remained strong even in his darkest hour. He said, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him” (Job 13:15). He realized that God’s plans and purposes may be mysterious, yet he chose to trust in God’s character even when he could not understand his suffering. Job’s steadfastness in the midst of his trials humbled God and caused God to endure that he had done what was right and ethical.
God’s Purpose Revealed
When God finally spoke to Job, he revealed to Job how his suffering was part of his greater plans to display his glory and holiness. As Job absorbed God’s words, his heart was filled with understanding, fear and reverence. God said:
- “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”
- “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?”
- “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?”
Job was overwhelmed by God’s power and majesty and all of his grievances vanished before the Lord:
- “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.”
- “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
- “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.”
Job realized that trusting God does not mean that we will always understand why we suffer, but it does mean that God is faithful to us and His provision is our ultimate good. Job humbled himself before the Lord in contrition and repentance and said:
Will You Contend for Me?
- “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
The response of Job to his immense suffering was to repent and humbly acknowledge his limitations. Though he may not understand why he had to suffer, Job submitted to God’s sovereign plan and accepted his fate in entrusting to Him the outcome of his life.
In the same way, God’s plan and purpose in our lives may be incomprehensible, and we may never understand why we endure hardship. However, just like Job, we can turn to the Lord and trust in His faithfulness and His ultimate provision for our lives. May we also acknowledge our human limitation before Him and “repent in dust and ashes”.