Day 118—Tears—“False Prophets” Job 22:1 – 31:40
April 28, 2021, 7:55 AM

Day 118—Tears—“False Prophets” Job 22:1 – 31:40

Most days I try to do a little teaching, a little questioning, a little reflecting. Most days this is a blog somewhat removed from my own life. An email I received this morning has changed that.

This is why I love Job. Because four years ago when my son unexpectedly died, it felt like the foundations of the entire world had come crashing down around me. I did not have any time to get my theology ready to deal with it. I couldn’t prepare my family and friends with the script so they knew the right things to say. I could not create a special cushion for my heart so that it would land more softly. It was pure suffering. It was undeserved suffering. I hadn’t done anything wrong. As I replied to the email this morning, I said that the intense suffering felt like sitting in ashes and dust all day long, for weeks.

I did not have all the wonderful words that Job did, but as I read them now, over and over, I am so impressed with how he says what suffering, faithful people may feel. I recognize much of what he is saying. I love his anger and his honesty about his anger. I love his questions and his cries to God. I love his clear vision. It is a limited vision as we will see, but still so raw and so clear.

“Hey God! I did everything right!” Job is saying. “And I did it for the right reasons too! I did it because I love YOU God, because I knew it was all a blessing from YOU! God—you have to listen to me!!”

I loved my son with sharp intensity. We had just held each other the night before, his long arms wrapping around me with warmth, and we had said that we loved each other. Then he had walked me to my car to be sure I got there safely and to wave me off because he was an old-fashioned gentleman like that. I loved that about him too. “Hey God!!” I screamed without sound, “We were one of the good families! We loved each other and we liked each other! We loved YOU God! God—you have to listen to me! This isn’t fair! We don’t deserve this!”

Absolutely true. We didn’t deserve it. But no one deserves the loss of someone they love. No one deserves suffering that cuts into the core of their being. No parent should lose a child. No sibling should lose a brother or sister. No child should lose a parent, no matter how old that ‘child’ is. Yet we know this happens to all of us, to each of us.

Today we read these words from Job, and they are what I call the ‘anti-Psalm 139’. In Psalm 139, my favorite psalm, the writer talks about how we cannot escape from God’s presence because he is all around us, everywhere. That is true. But so are Job’s words: “If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turned to the right, but I cannot see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.” (23: 8-10)

Job’s honesty in his grief and suffering come closest to the experience that I have had, and his words resonate in my guts. But we have not yet reached the fulcrum, the place where God speaks to Job, and when I read those words, my heart begins to beat faster and I feel like I have been given a passport to understanding a tiny bit of the magnitude of who God is, and how my suffering is important, but it should not define my whole life because there is a height and depth and breadth of God who IS all around, who is the same God from Psalm 139:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol*, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.” (139: 7-10)

*Sheol is another word for death, or the grave.

I cannot begin to do this justice, and if it is too personal, I apologize. There is no teaching in it, and it may be useless for you to read this. But that email I received today—it cut me right to the heart with renewed memories and renewed understanding about why I love this book so much. Job speaks my language, and he speaks the language of all who suffer, who feel lost and powerless over their life circumstances. Job makes me feel like I am standing on the edge of the ocean, yelling my complaints and anger into the wind, and that no one hears, no one understands, but the God who made me, who loves me, who loves my son more than I ever can, who loves your loved ones too--God hears. I find great comfort in this book of suffering.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML

Post a Comment