Aug. 3, 2018

Insights From the Book of Job

The opening verses of the book of Job describe him as a godly man who had a worshipful reverence for God. Job was prosperous and he and his family (wife and ten children) were living well. [Job 1:1-5]

Because of an exchange between God and the devil, Job's life was struck with disaster. [Job 1:6-19] All of his livestock was either killed or captured. Nearly all of his employees were killed. All ten of his children died in one day. In all of this, Job remained faithful to God. [Job 1:20-22]

Later, due to a further exchange between God and the devil [Job 2:2-6] Job was stricken with painful, hideous sores over his entire body. [Job 2:7-8] Adding to his misery was the fact that he was without any comfort or support. [Job 2:9-10]

Some of Job's friends heard of his plight and made plans to meet together to visit and comfort him. [Job 2:11] While they were quite a distance from him they saw Job and were shocked and sickened by what they saw. The men were not prepared to see their friend who had been vibrant, healthy and wealthy reduced to a vague shadow of his former self. Upon seeing the severity of his malady, the friends were not emotionally or spiritually suited to carry out their intentions of offering comfort and solace. [Job 2:12-13]

Acknowledging the pain and extreme discomfort of Job, the loss of his children and his livlihood, the friends sat with him and remained silent for seven days and seven nights. No one spoke a word to him. [Job 2:13] Later in the book there are seemingly endless reams of words released from Job and his friends. Most of the orations of the friends miss the target of their original intent. The purpose of their visit was to offer support and consolation. Instead they dish out volumes of speculation and suspicion concerning the reason for Job's extreme misfortune. At this point, none of them know that Job has not done anything to bring on these multiple catastrophes.

This story is a clear reminder that we don't know why certain hardships occur in people's lives. Uninformed speculation is not helpful. It is insensitive to blurt out theories and conjecture when people are suffering. A person in distress is not helped by opinions, attacks or accusations. When people experience trauma they need and want peace, comfort, rest, relief and sometimes silence. Even if the person or persons in question are not present to hear what is being said, negative conversation still affects them. Words have power and it is best to only use words that build and strengthen.

Think about what Jesus experienced during His last days before the crucifixion. Similar to Job, none of His friends understood what was happening or why. Most of the people Jesus trusted fled the scene during His darkest hour.

When we see people in trouble, pray. Ask God for His wisdom and insight. If you are able, offer assistance. Job had to bury his children, had to bury his servants, had lost his income streams, had no emotional support and his body was racked with pain. Three of Job's friends peppered him mercilessly with their valueless philosophies. Instead they should have showered him softly with gentleness and love, dug some of the graves, paid some of the bills and made him some hot soup. When a person is fragile mentally, spiritually, emotionally or physically small gestures of strengthening kindness go a long way.

People are hurting in so many ways. Let God bless them through you.