Do you ever feel like we discuss things too much? I know I do. At what point to I be still and know that He is God1? Or when do I have time to wait on the Lord? Not in the talk nation!
[God Will Be Gracious] Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
I think Job felt this way too. In Job chapter 19:2 he said: “How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with words?” He couldn’t get his friends to shut their traps. They thought they had all the answers. Job is trying to say “Hey wait a minute! That’s not working here!”
This week I’ve read Job Chapters 4 through 21. Each friend has given two speeches and Chapter 21 is Job’s sixth reply. I stopped here on Monday. Just to breathe and think about this man who lost everything. He and his friends are desperate for answers, explanations, anything to make sense of Job’s loss. The conversations move from sorrow, bewilderment, and shock, to fear, anger, desperation, and accusations.
This is the third time in my life I have visited Job. Once when I was a teen challenged myself to read the bible cover to cover like a novel. I admit I rushed through Job. The beginning is like a movie. It grabs me with the evil one taunting and daring God the Father. Sorrow enfolds me as Job loses everything; His children, his home, his livelihood, his wealth, and his health. Even his wife tells him to die. Worst of all is God does not lift a finger to assist. Job feels abandoned. But the end of the book is victory and triumph. When read like this Job teaches us to persevere in life.
About ten years ago, I read Job again like a student searching for knowledge. It took eight months to dig through the chapters and look up all the cross-references. Like a good student I learned a lot.
This time I am a visitor in Jo’s journey. I find pieces come alive in my mind’s eye. Think of walking along a wooded path. You stop striding along and slow down taking in the sights and sounds of the forest. You spot a tiny wildflower pushing through the green growth. It is not noticeable unless you are aware of your surroundings.
Job has three friends who come to and sit with him in the dust. As Job suffers in silence. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar wait for seven days and nights. There is a bit of calm until they started talking.
The conversations start in Chapter 3 and continue back and forth through Chapter 28. Reading Job’s sixth reply* I thought, I’m exhausted. Job must have been beside himself with pain and fatigue! So far there is a lot of talkin’ and the Lord isn’t in the middle of it!
Yes, Job cries out to God for answers but, with his friends there’s not a lot of interaction with God. It just made me wonder… Is that what we do when we gather our friends close for comfort? We talk and our words move God into the corner. We move him away from our center as we try to figure things out for ourselves.
I smiled as I thought of how many times I have done this very thing with girlfriends, family and even my husband. We put our heads together trying to figure out a plan of action, where I went wrong, brainstorm solutions, and how to fix the problem. It is problem solving by committee.
We push for what we feel the other person should do. When they don’t take our advice; feelings get hurt. Sometimes we get angry about it. We feel attacked and get defensive. We push back at each other. Tears fall and shouts ring out. Fear rules the day. Sorrow and loss shred the soul.
Walking with Job today, I see what I haven’t seen in previous visits. I watch emotions play out in these chapters. The chapters are long and tedious. They have too many words. Just like my conversation with my crew when I try to figure it all out on my own.
The friends get in Job’s face. They are blaming him. He did something wrong and they want him to admit it. Job becomes stubborn and defensive. I step back from the conflict. My soul hurts for Job. My life’s been shattered too. I also live with physical pain. People get in my face and accuse me of not resting enough and not doing enough. I took a breath and felt the verbal blows Job withstood from his friends.
Then I look past the scene that the words paint. I see a strong Man, a King, sitting on a rock. He leans forward paying attention to every detail. His elbows rest on his knees with his hands folded. He waits for the talking to stop. He waits for an invitation into the circle of friends.
Invite Him back into your life today. Put Him right smack dab in the middle of your life with all its problems and joy! All He needs is your invitation.
1Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…”
*Job Chapter 21; all references are from the New King James Version.