I Repent

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Job 42:1-6

Then Job answered the LORD and said: . . . “Now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (vv. 1, 5-6)

Job spent days in literal dust and ashes. Now, before Almighty God, Job embraces the figurative dust and ashes of repentance. There are two Hebrew words translated “repent.” The verb in Job’s reply is nacham, which here means “to be sorry” or “to be consoled.” Some sources suggest that the original meaning of the word conveys the idea of taking a deep breath, as when expressing deep feeling, either of sorrow or relief. Job says to God, “I no longer need an explanation. I will be content with whatever you give me because you are God.”

The second Hebrew word is shub, which means “to turn” or “to return.” The Lord persistently invites his people to turn from their waywardness and return to him. Isaiah writes, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isa. 30:15 NIV). Job submits to this invitation in two ways. First, he acknowledges that God is God. Second, he accepts that all things come from God, whose purposes are ultimately good.

Our life becomes restless when we doubt God’s good purposes. Our inability to obey and our inability to persevere arise from mistrust. However, when we trust that all things come to us not by chance but from God’s fatherly hand, we are consoled—even when all seems to be dust and ashes. Return to God. Trust him as your Father. You will find rest and strength to persevere. —Ben Van Arragon

Prayer: Loving Father, let me find perfect peace and rest in you.