Has The Prime of Life Passed You By?

Text: Job 29:1-25, Psalm 56:8-13

“I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent.” —Job 29:4

The word “prime” has many connotations. It can speak of that which is the principal thing or foremost importance, as in prime concern. It can refer to that which is of the highest quality, as in prime beef or prime real estate. It is also used to describe a state or time of greatest strength, vigor, or success in a person’s life, such as the range of seasons that an athlete may perform at his or her highest level of potential.

Every time I play basketball with the younger guys, my body has a painfully nagging way of reminding me that my prime on the court has long passed!

In today’s text, Job laments that the prime of life seems to have passed him by—a time when the friendship of God—His intimacy and blessing—had been strong upon his life (v.4). It was a season when “the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were all around me” (v.5). It was a season when Job elicited favor in his relationships with people (vv.6-11), a time of godly influence with the poor and needy (vv.12-17), and years spent in fruitfulness of service to others (vv.19-20)—a time before his “prosperity passed away like a cloud” (Job 30:15).

“I was in my prime,” Job reminisced, but now those days looked like frayed pages in an old and worn out history book.

Job’s deepest regret is in the feeling that, in some way, and for some unknown reason, God no longer “watched over” him. He recalls a time when it seemed that God was for him rather than against him—longing not only for the days before he lost his children and health and wealth, but especially the days before he lost his sense of God’s closeness. The once familiar “lamp” of God had given way to spiritual darkness—a crisis of the soul.

If only Job knew in chapters 29-30 how God will show up in chapters 38-42, his song might sound a bit different. He will eventually see that His Redeemer lives—that though it has been many dark nights of the soul, the God of his prime hasn’t abandoned him, but has faithfully “bottled up” every one of Job’s tears and is indeed still very much for him (Psalm 56:8-9).

Too often people give up because they think their greatest days are behind them. The God of their prime seems to have moved on to more successful people or to the next generation. Yet one of the beauties of the Bible is that it is a book that reminds us that every chapter matters to God—not just those chapters about victories, successes, and redemption, but also those seasons of loss, pain, and brokenness. The Bible doesn’t hold back, it never covers up the seasons of darkness. Rather, it speaks of God’s faithfulness in every season of our lives—from the vigor of youthfulness to the maturity of agedness.

God isn’t interested in merely creating a highlight reel of your life, edited only to show those glamorous shots (the kind of stuff we like to fill our social media profiles with!). He’s up to something much bigger. He’s writing a redemption story that includes all of your deepest struggles and darkest moments. He’s even bottling up every tear for something only He knows—because He understands in His infinite wisdom that your highlight reel doesn’t do anything for this broken world, but your full and unfiltered redemption story does.

God is still writing your story, Beloved. And whatever season you find yourself in at this moment, it has great importance to the final and unabridged version. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, help us to remember that with you there is no prime season in life—every season is equally important. The ups and downs, the highs and lows, the blessing and the bleeding—‘tis all part of a larger and unfiltered redemption story. Help us to sing and worship as a people who understand you are so much bigger than a mere highlight reel. You are worthy—in every chapter, in every valley, and on every mountaintop—of our highest praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. If you had to choose a season as “the prime of your life,” what would it be and how would you describe that season?
  2. If you knew how Job’s story came to fruition at the end of the book, and you found yourself as one of his friends in chapters 29 and 30 with this knowledge, what would you say to him?
  3. When have you felt the closest to God? What does friendship with God mean to you?
  4. Have you ever had a crisis of the soul like that of Job’s profound sense of darkness in these chapters? Explain.
  5. Knowing that God isn’t only interested in the highlight reel of your life, what does that evoke in you? What do you think God is looking for the most right now in your life?

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