Job’s Dark Response

It’s been awhile since I wrote one of my lengthier poems, Job: A Champion of Faith by Grace. I read it again recently and found myself turning back to this great book of the bible. Once again, I was amazed by Job’s response in chapter three. It is so dark, so utterly sorrowful and desperate. Why am I amazed? I don’t think it is because his response is strange. It isn’t strange. In fact, it is kind of what you might expect from a man whose property, herds, servants, and children were just lost and destroyed to two sets of violent raiders, fire from heaven, and wind strong enough to collapse a house.

And then, as if his pain wasn’t great enough, he was smote with “sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7).”

I mean, this scenario is insane. I would write more about it, but since I already have in the poem and here I will let that suffice. I just wanted to zero in on chapter three.

After seven days and seven nights of silence, and pain which made him unrecognizable to his friends, he finally opens his mouth and starts by cursing the day of his birth. He wishes he had died as a stillborn child, or been miscarried and discarded. The imagery here is graphic and disturbing. He believes that to have died and been at rest would have been better for him than to have lived and suffered this excessive loss.

Then he asks “Why?” as most people who find themselves in suffering do. “Why is light given to him who suffers (Job 3:20)?”

But it was the last three verses of the chapter that stood out to me the most recently.

Job 3:24-26 “For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my cries pour out like water. For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.”

Try that out as a Facebook status.

I’m being cheeky of course, but how comfortable are you with those verses? How would you respond if a friend said this to you? Picture a person too grieved to eat their food, too distraught to sleep, who cannot be quiet, but cries out loud about their woe? Someone who says “there is no rest in me. I have no peace. I am undone.”

It doesn’t get more broken than Job, and it still disturbs me that I hear so little about 90% of the book. This is what a shattered person looks like, and it is in the bible for a reason. For many reasons. What is the church going to do with shattered people? Are they allowed? Are they safe? Or are they going to be met with platitudes, wrongful rebukes even?

This is a person whose current circumstances have gone over their head. Forget about the saying “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” This is way beyond what Job can handle. This is crushing the man.

A bit later in Job 6:2-3 when Job reflects on what he said, he cries “Oh that my grief were actually weighed and laid in the balances together with my calamity! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the seas; therefore my words have been rash.”

It is as if he says “If you could feel the weight of what I am feeling and experiencing, you would know why I have said those awful things I said.”

He asks later in Job 6:26 “Do you intend to reprove my words, when the words of one in despair belong to the wind?” I love what John Piper says about this verse so I will share a lengthy quote here:

“In grief and pain and despair people often say things they otherwise would not say. They paint reality with darker strokes than they will paint it tomorrow when the sun comes up. They sing in minor keys and talk as though that is the only music. They see clouds only and speak as if there were no sky.

They say, “Where is God?” Or: “There is no use to go on.” Or: “Nothing makes any sense.” Or: “There’s no hope for me.” Or: “If God were good this couldn’t have happened.”

What shall we do with these words?

Job says that we do not need to reprove them. These words are wind, or literally “for the wind.” They will be quickly blown away. There will come a turn in circumstances and the despairing person will waken from the dark night and regret hasty words.

Therefore, the point is, let us not spend our time and energy reproving such words. They will be blown away of themselves on the wind. One need not clip the leaves in autumn. It is a wasted effort. They will soon blow off of themselves.

O how quickly we are given to defending God, or sometimes the truth, from words that are only for the wind. If we had discernment we could tell the difference between the words with roots and the words blowing in the wind.

There are words with roots in deep error and deep evil. But not all grey words get their color from a black heart. Some are colored mainly by the pain, the despair. What you hear is not the deepest thing within. There is something real within where they come from. But it is temporary—like a passing infection—real, painful, but not the true person.

Let us learn to discern whether the words spoken against us or against God or against the truth are merely for the wind—spoken not from the soul, but from the sore. If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove. Restoring the soul not reproving the sore is the aim of our love.”

These are wise words. Job said many things that he should not have said, and he had to repent at the end of all this. God was merciful and gracious to him, restoring health and children to him, and even used his story to teach us today in the word of God. Little could Job have known what God had planned, when all his suffering looked worthless.

There is a difference between people who are chronic worriers, pessimists, and doubters, and people who are simply crushed beneath a trial and a sorrow that is too great for them. We need to be careful to discern that difference don’t we?

Romans 12:15-16 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”

John Piper Quote found @ http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-words-are-wind

 

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