That’s Not My Favorite Verse Anymore

I’m as excited as anyone to see our current world situation improve and to have our lives start shifting back to normal. I’m reminded of the joke where someone says, This too shall pass, and another person responds with, “Yes, like a kidney stone!” That’s an interesting phrase—This too shall pass—it sounds biblical, right?
Have you ever “known” something to be true from God’s Word, but then eventually discovered that your belief was not quite accurate? For me, a recent example is when I “knew” that the Bible says, This too shall pass. While the Bible does express ideas similar to that phrase, those words actually do not appear in Scripture, at least not in the way we typically use them.
Why do I mention this? For a long time, my favorite verse in the Bible was this one: “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). The reason I loved that verse, however, turned out to be a misunderstanding on my part. I thought Job’s words were similar to what we read in James: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
I was wrong. In the context of Job chapter 23, we find out that Job was actually so convinced of his own innocence that he wanted to state his case directly before God, having the confidence that God would find no guilt in him. Job says, “I have kept his way without turning aside,” and “I have not departed from the commands of his lips.” Later on, Job also says, “Let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless” (Job 31:6). I do not share Job’s confidence. I am not innocent and I have no desire to state my case directly before God, because He would find me guilty.
It’s not hard to understand why Job was so confident in his own innocence. After all, God practically brags about him to Satan when He says this: “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). God doesn’t say that about me because He would be lying, and that’s impossible for Him to do.
Here’s my point in all of this: Job 23:10 was my favorite verse for a long time because I read it as a standalone sentence, quoted at the beginning of a novel I read in college. We can make the Bible say almost anything we want it to say, if we only read individual verses or portions of verses. Now that I understand the context of that verse in Job, it’s no longer my favorite. I am in awe of the verse. I wish I could say that about myself. But I cannot. The verse does not apply to me.
The Bible is true, but we must make the effort to read it properly. Most of it is not difficult to understand, but it’s very easy to misunderstand when we don’t take it as a whole. When I look around at this crazy world, I do believe that this too shall pass, but it’s not because the Bible says that exactly. And I do believe that God will strengthen my faith when I endure various trials, but it’s not because of Job 23:10; it’s because of James 1:2-4 and other similar passages. I guess it turns out that my favorite verses are the ones that I read as God intended them. Go figure!
Troy Burns