Discover His heart: Unthreatened by our questions, He answers those at the heart of our need
The tales I’ve heard about the language mother’s-to-be have used in the throes of delivering their babies could make a grown woman blush, especially in the days before the pain relievers available today. I think of the dear father coaching his sweet wife along in the process when the pain of an absolute explosion occurring in her abdomen causes her to lash out at the instigator of all this pain. Obviously, the lack of understanding in his advice was insulting and not welcomed. Poor guy – he was just trying to help!
Just like these fathers, we may experience something similar when we offer advice after listening to someone’s woes. That well-intended advice could come back to bite us. Some questions come to mind from our reading today in Job: In the midst of a struggle and in our telling of it to others, what response are we really expecting from them? What is our responsibility as a listener?
@ Job 3
In all the trials that Job faced, he did not take his wife’s advice to curse God, but he did do some cursing. “At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.” (1) So miserable was his existence that he asked that the day of his birth be removed from the calendar. (6) Job just wanted to die. Jeremiah expressed similar words in Jeremiah 20:14, “Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth. I curse the messenger who told my father, ‘Good news—you have a son!’” Some struggles in life are so painful that dying just seems easier.
Job began his questioning of why, seven times just in this chapter alone. “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die…Why is life given to those with no future?” etc. (11-23) God isn’t really threatened by our questions because He made us and understands our desire to know the answer to our why; but in this testing, God had more important truths for Job to learn.
Job’s friends had come to him and sat in silence which was the custom of the day, but also because grief and anguish leave many of us without words. However, when Job started to ask his many questions, his friends felt compelled to answer, and answer they did. As in the mother scenario, Job did not care for their answers. Perhaps we can learn from Job’s experience that when going through a crisis, we can express our sadness and pain to caring listeners, but for the answers to our difficult questions, we are wise to go to those who may have actual answers, and even more so, we should seek the Lord.
@ Job 4
Put on the spot, Eliphaz, the most seasoned of Job’s friends, felt obliged to answer, “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed? My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” (7-8) Because we are privy to the dialogue of Chapter 1, we know that Eliphaz, in all his experience, was just offering his opinion in Job’s case and even had the audacity to say he was speaking on God’s behalf. His counsel to Job was inaccurate and wasn’t helpful.
In Galatians 6:2, Paul strongly encouraged to “Share each other’s burdens,” and this is one of the many blessings we receive as believers. Sometimes we feel all we can do is listen to our hurting friend, but so often, that is exactly what is needed. The most valuable time Job’s friends spent with him was when they sat in silence. From Eliphaz’s poor counsel, we learn that the best and most helpful advice is based on fact and not on opinion. Finally, praying with our friend is the one thing we can do that opens the door to God’s supernatural intervention for their need. Whether He uses us or someone else to help our friend, He is the One who knows all the right answers to all the questions and reveals them at just the right moment.
Moving Forward: For those I meet today who may be hurting, I pray that my response is Spirit-led, whether in simply listening or in sharing truths.
Tomorrow @ Isaiah 7-11