Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Do You Treat Those Suffering In Their Trials? (Part Two)

For Part One, see Seek To Offer Comfort.

2) Remember Words Of Grief Are Often As The Wind, Spoken Without Meaning:

Job 6:1-5 But Job answered and said, Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?

Job says, “I am crying out and you can see my misery and you show no pity at all. You act as if I’m not in trouble. I wouldn’t be crying out if I weren’t.” He points out that the longeared donkey out in the field doesn’t bray for something to eat when he is eating grass. So Job is saying that he wouldn’t be crying out if there were nothing hurting him. He says, “I’m hurting and I’m hurting bad.” [McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 2000, c1981.]

Later in the same chapter, Job states this:

Job 6:14-17 To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away; Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.

They were like an oasis in the desert that promised refreshing, but it never came, it was only a mirage - or like a frozen brook in the winter that looked safe enough to walk on, but instead cracked and broke underfoot.

The word for pity used in verse 14 means "kindness or mercy", and comes from a root word meaning "to bow (the neck only in courtesy to an equal), i.e. to be kind." Job's friends did not treat him like an equal - they looked down on him. Instead of having sympathy with what he was going through, they condemned him by their wrong assumptions about his situation. They mocked him, looked down upon him, accused him of being a hypocrite and a liar in his statements to them. Instead of seeking to strengthen his walk with the Lord, they despised the fact that he was struggling and his feet were ready to slip.

Job 12:2-5 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these? I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn. He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.

Job was saying he was teachable - he knew he was a sinner, but he also knew that he was not being chastised for some hidden sin in his life. Job wasn't afraid of answers, or of words offered in comfort and hope - but that wasn't what his friends brought him.

Job 6:21 For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.

Job 6:28-30 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie. Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it. Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?

Some commentators make Job out to be self-righteous, but he was not. He knew he could not stand before God in his own righteousness. The problem was he was not aware of any specific sin in his life that God would be judging him for. Job held fast to his integrity. His friends wanted him to admit guilt on his part - but he knew he wasn't being chastised for unrepented sin, and to admit the opposite would be to lie just to meet the approval of his friends (and THAT would be sin!). His friends were afraid of the possibility that God could bring someone through a trial for no specific sin on their part - if so, what happened to Job could happen to them too! In their fear, they dealt harshly with their friend, rather than be a source of comfort to him.

Later, we do find Job justifying himself rather than the Lord God. He did not know why God was allowing his trials, and he knew it was not due to specific sin on his part, so he started to question God's goodness and justice and started to justify himself. He needed to keep trusting in the Lord regardless.

Job 32:1-3 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

Job 6:25-26 How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?

The Hebrew word for forcible means "properly, to press, i.e. (figuratively) to be pungent or vehement; to irritate," and also includes the meanings of "grievous, sore." Job states his friends' words were strong and pressing upon him, they were weighty and powerful - but did not apply in his situation. He was desperate and was just letting out hot air.

The word used here for desperate means "to desist, i.e. (figuratively) to despond," and is in reference to being "in despair and without hope"; despond carrying the idea of giving up and no longer striving. Webster's 1828 Dictionary gives the following definitions for this word: "1. To be cast down; to be depressed or dejected in mind; to fail in spirits. 2. To lose all courage, spirit or resolution; to sink by loss of hope."

Job was despondent and was just venting his grief, but his friends reproved him as if his vain words were something of substance, and were more important to deal with than Job's situation. Job was looking for hope and letting out steam, empty words; however, they were looking for reasons to condemn him - not offering Job answers, but attempting to place blame squarely on him for his trials.

It is sad and interesting to note that Bildad later rips Job's words out of context and, instead of having pity on him and overlooking his empty words, he casts them back in Job's face:

Job 8:2 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?

Even though Job basically states he was without hope (confident expectation), he was actually filled with it (looking forward to seeing his Saviour face to face, looking forward to the resurrection, looking forward to coming forth as gold at the end of these trials, etc.). Perhaps what was on the inside came out in his frustration with his friends, but the book of Job is filled with words of hope. Though he may have thought of giving up on the Lord, he never did. Yes, he took his eyes off the Lord here and there in his trials, but he never turned from (ie. rejected) the Lord. Though he may have given up on living at times, as he stated in several places, he persevered (the meaning of patience in the following verse) in his walk with the Lord:

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

We see that the Lord had pity on Job, even when his friends did not!

November 23rd/08
Jerry Bouey

8 comments:

Deborah said...

It's interesting that you posted this...just the other day I was reading Job as we drove somewhere, and was talking to my husband about some of what you wrote. There's so much in the book of Job.

Jerry Bouey said...

Thank you for your comment. There is sooo much in the book of Job. I learn something new everytime I come to it. I pity those who neglect the Old Testament - they are missing so much.

The reason this topic has been impressed upon my heart lately is because we have a difficult man living at the Gospel Mission. He had cancer and had surgery to remove part of his intestines (had a complete blockage). He is a professing Christian (though I have never gotten his testimony of salvation), and has been very hard on the Mission staff, including myself. We have discussed his situation at several staff meetings. It is a fine line between having compassion on his situation and letting him take advantage of the staff and manipulate them because of his addictions. My natural tendency would be to separate from him and have nothing to do with him (at least on a personal basis, as I still have to deal with him in regards to him living at the Mission) - but I have been seriously meditating on some passages from the book of Job, and God won't let me! These studies are my attempts to deal with situations like this man's, and to have the compassion and sympathy that the Lord would have me show to him, while also knowing where to draw some Biblical boundaries (in the sense of knowing when to spend time trying to be an encouragement/exhortation to him, when to rebuke his foul moods and extreme overly critical comments, and when to give him his space).

I know this man's wife died last year (I went to her funeral). No matter how manipulative and abusive this man is at times, he is going through the trial of the loss of his health basically alone (as far as family goes, and he has alienated various friends). Perhaps somethings I am learning and will learn from the book of Job will enable me to be a better servant to this man, and someone who can be a source of hope and comfort to him and others - rather than just someone who reacts emotionally to his outbursts and bad behaviour. If you think about it, I could use your prayers for wisdom. God bless.

Deborah said...

I'll try to remember him, (and you as you work with him) in prayer. I'd like to post a link to this on thursday this 'n that.

Stephen said...

Jerry, we miss you at av1611.com/forums. I hope you've been well.

Peace and Love,
Stephen

Jerry Bouey said...

Thank you for your concern. I backed off from posting and debating online. I guess I no longer have the heart for it - and because of my discouragement, I realize I have not always posted in a Christ-like manner. To avoid being a stumblingblock to my brethren, I have made the decision to just stay away from message boards.

I hope all is well with you. God bless.

Marie_Christine said...

Hi again,

About suffering...my friend (christian) committed suicide over two weeks ago. I think the people I "know" and talk to think this is just a death but it is was more then that, you have questions, many and you wonder where God is in all this. We prayed for him so often and he was such a good man,

My grief is overwhelming and I find I have to pretend that it doesn't hurt as much as it does.

Help,

Where is God when you need Him, where was He with my friend.

Jerry Bouey said...

Marie, I have been so busy lately that I didn't have the time to write a reply that I felt would adequately answer your questions - but I didn't want to put it off if you are struggling and in need of comfort.

Where is God when you need Him? Right beside us. He has promised never to leave or forsake us. The problem is we take our eyes off of Him - but we can't blame Him for OUR unfaithfulness or doubts. What we need to do is dig into the Bible, look for hope in God's promises, then claim them daily, hourly - as much as needed.

One verse that comes to mind right now is:

Isaiah 58:9a Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.

This is a verse I claimed soooo many times when I was trying to win the victory over my depression. The Lord is faithful! When I cried out, He answered my heart's/soul's cry, and reassured me that He was here and that His arms were still surrounding me and holding me up.

Deuteronomy 33:27a The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:

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