Job has always been an inexplicable book to me; one in which I tread carefully, reverently, lightly.
The three friends and their wrong counsel can spin me round in such a web of confusion. It can sound so right. Was Job spun round? The shattering rebuke from the Lord at the end of the book instills fear in me.
In Chapter 4, it is Eliphaz who speaks:
4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
3 Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
6 Is not your fear of God[a] your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope? ESV
I will say, I walk carefully with my words- because I often think of Job’s friends.
Job teaches me the unsearchableness of God; the darkness that can and maybe will surround each one of us; the truth of a faith that is greater than self; greater than understanding in moments of pain, torment, suffering, and sorrow.
5 8 “Oh that I might have my request,
and that God would fulfill my hope,
9 that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10 This would be my comfort;
I would even exult[k] in pain unsparing,
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
13 Have I any help in me,
when resource is driven from me? ESV
Job teaches me the value in a heart that cries out to God from a place of pain; from a place of integrity. Integrity doesn’t always mean perfect uprightness- it can also mean authenticity; realness; realization; rightness. In other words, when I see myself for who I am before God and declare it so- I am operating with integrity.
Job’s suffering is painful to witness; it is painful to watch. In this way, it is a shining reflection of grief as a whole. I have precious friends who have suffered greatly. They are no stranger to great grief; again and again. And the Lord has provided them such profound, heart-felt wisdom through their sufferings. I often feel that I am on holy ground. I was with them this past weekend- and had opportunity to discuss grief. My friend has shared how hard the first year is; how every season- grief is fresh and new; unexpected and uncontrollable. Scents, light, color, traditions- it all brings it forward. And we talked about how people struggle with those who are grieving; people just want those grieving “to move on” or “to be over it.” I shared that I think people find it hard to see someone in pain. It is hard to witness their suffering. People grow impatient with their suffering. It is especially hard when it is inexplicable, uncontrollable, and maybe- inconvenient. People suffer, and I walk with God when I walk gently into that space and don’t turn away.
711 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
that you set a guard over me?
13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint,’
14 then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than my bones.
16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17 What is man, that you make so much of him,
and that you set your heart on him,
18 visit him every morning
and test him every moment?
19 How long will you not look away from me,
nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.” ESV
I handle Job delicately. It is a reminder to handle those who suffer and grieve with tender care; with the utmost humility; with the full realization that God alone is at work in the depths of a human heart- and that heart is holy ground; holy! ground. Tread carefully.
Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy! ESV
Lord, help me to be tender and true. I lift up my precious, dear friends who have just navigated yet another “first year after loss.” I pray for them, Lord. Richly bless them. I am grateful for You, Lord. Help me walk tenderly with those who grieve and help me, Lord. Be merciful to me.