19 • God has cast me into the mire,
and I have become like dust and ashes.
20 • I cry to you for help and you do not answer me;
I stand, and you only look at me.
21 • You have turned cruel to me;
with the might of your hand you persecute me.
Job's friends argued that he'd brought his troubles on himself, he must have done by their reckoning because such trouble wouldn't be visited on anyone without a reason, would it? We know better, knowing that the devil was very active in Job's troubles because we've been given an insight into how Satan was operating in this case in the first couple of chapters. But our insight isn't enough because Job, with all his lack of objectivity about the case, knew best. God is active in visiting death upon all mankind. The threat that at the death of every individual we shall return to our constituent dust is lived out in the lives of those who suffer, whose lives are cast onto the waste-heap when they would have thought of themselves as being in the midst of their years.
The worst thing about death is the feeling that God has forsaken the one who is dying. If there is, as there genuinely often is for the believer in Jesus Christ, an assurance of his accompanying them through the valley of the shadow of death then it is not death to die. But such assurance is not always vouchsafed to those who are wrestling with pain. Sometimes it seems that it is God who is wrestling with us and sometimes he seems just to stand there and watch. 'How long O Lord?'
It is small comfort to know that if God did not stay his hand we would be utterly overwhelmed but it is a comfort. Whose hands would you rather be in? The capricious hands of man, knowing your own clumsiness, the hands of the evil one who is always racking his brains to find new ways to torture his victims or the hands of God? Job like David would have chosen to have his life in God's hands even if that meant death. (Job 13:15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.) If we get who God is then we will wish for the same.