“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (v. 15) is a powerful statement. But it is sometimes isolated from its context while being touted as an unshakable, rock-solid declaration of unwavering faith. Though remarkable, it was “faith by the narrowest of margins. Victory by a whisker.”
Some of our victories are narrow; our experiences are sweet and sour, fire on ice; an ice cream swirl in which a little melted chocolate of difficulty and hardship colors a lot of vanilla. Enough discouraging events and pressures bombard us at the same time a victory comes, we are not aware we won. The hymn Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty addresses this reality: “Hast thou not seen, how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?” Weary, we can respond, “No, I do not see how what I wanted was granted in the way things turned out. I don’t understand.”
For example, consider Exodus 19:4. It gives God’s perspective about Israel’s departure from Egypt: “You yourselves have seen . . . how I carried you on eagles’ wings. . . .” We imagine some liberated Hebrew slave saying, “Eagles’ wings! I walked every step of the way!” From his perspective, this was the lowest flight plan ever taken by an eagle. It was transport by the humblest of means – the shoe leather express. Yet God declared He granted their request in how things turned out.
For the bet to be valid and legitimate, Job was taken to the brink of insanity (e.g. the outer limits of inner space). The nature of Heaven’s contest called for faith by the narrowest of margins, which seems to be God’s standard operating procedure. Faith focuses on God, not the one showing the faith. God gives enough faith for victory, but not so much that we swell with pride (Peter walked on water . . . but only briefly).
Yielding our physical lives to God – as Job thought he was about to do – requires faith, and that is what Job expressed in verse 15. It was a fine statement of faith, but it was a point of light surrounded by darkness, an island of trust in a sea of complaint.
Like Job, we will eventually all be called upon to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” and we will find His grace sufficient. At that time, it may help to remember that some victories are so narrow as to appear defeats. You may be winning without knowing it. Job was.