Walking in the WayBy Marty Duren
July 30, 2020
Oh, soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.
For many years I sang “and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim” with thoughts only of “things” as in stuff. It made sense and perhaps still does: the more I consider Jesus and behold his goodness, glory, and grace, the less stuff will grab and hold my attention. I do not have to chase the biggest and best of everything. No need to upgrade every single toy every single time. Sometimes there is no need for the thing at all; it’s just a covetous craving. And, truly, Jesus surpasses stuff every time.
But, stuff is not what the verse of the hymn specifies. It addresses weariness, trouble, and an inability to see a way out. We do not often think about these as “things of earth,” but they are. Earth, not heaven, is the place where weariness slows us, troubles beset us, and darkness makes us confused or afraid. I can hardly think of those realities without thinking of Job.
Everyone who has done much Bible study knows his story: the cosmic wager, Job’s loss of family and property, his wife’s challenge to “curse God and die,” his friends and their theological debates, God’s very direct corrections to Job’s doubts, and his ultimate vindication by God. But, tucked away in the middle of the book is a powerful, faith-building passage. It begins with Job placing himself squarely in the middle of weariness and trouble: “Today also my complaint is bitter. His hand is heavy despite my groaning” (23:2). With bodily disease and loss of children and property, Job was suffering a personal pandemic.
Job then expresses his desire to question God about his circumstances, “If only I knew how to find him, so that I could go to his throne. I would plead my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments” (vs 4–5). Even deeper than weariness and trouble, Job is in the dark; he cannot reach God for either conversation or explanation. But, Job follows his exasperation with one of the most faith-filled monologues in all of scripture:
“If I go east, he is not there, and if I go west, I cannot perceive him. When he is at work to the north, I cannot see him; when he turns south, I cannot find him. Yet he knows the way I have taken; when he has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold” (8–10).
In the midst of groaning, complaint, loss, heaviness, and feeling of distance, Job believed God anyway. Even though Job could not see God, he never stopped believing God saw him and, that his present moment of fiery trial would not destroy him, but purify him instead.
Many Christians, if not most of us, have at least one “valley of the shadow of death” experience in life. We grow weary in doing well, find ourselves in troubling times, the shadow is so dark and so long we cannot see light behind or beyond it. Job knew it well; we should learn from him. What brought Job this faith? In his continued defense to his friend Eliphaz, Job affirms these things that can instruct us:
“My feet have followed in his tracks; I have kept to his way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the worlds from his mouth more than my daily food” (vs 11–12).
Job says he followed God’s tracks, keeping his way and not turning aside. In other words, he followed God in obedience. Is this ever an example for all those who have come after. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” There is no biblical concept of Christian discipleship that recommends disobedience. We learn from Job and Jesus that obedience is learned in the midst of suffering: “He learned obedience by the things that he suffered” (Heb 5:8).
In addition to walking in the way of God, Job treasured God’s words. This was no mere learning facts to win Bible trivia. Job loved God’s word for than his life’s food. His wisdom preceded the psalmist who wrote the “ordinances of the Lord are…sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb” (19:9–10) and prefigured Jesus response to his disciples’ query about dinner: “I have food to eat that you don’t know about” (John 4:32).
When things are tough and the night is long, stay in his steps. “This is the way, walk in it”(Isaiah 30:21). Treasure his word for the sweetness and sustenance it provides your weary, troubled soul. Let it be your food until the day dawns, the burden is lighter, the way more clear.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and walk in faith as the troubles and weariness of this world grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, words and music by Helen Howarth Lemmel.