In book of Job chapter 16, Job tells his friends they are miserable comforters. Friends whose long-winded speeches never end, bringing no relief to his pain. Often when we feel pain peoples well meaning ‘speeches’ make us feel worse not better. Job said this to his friends in chapter 13 verse five. “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” At times silence is wisdom. This is something I still need to remember.
I find the Jobs words in chapter sixteen verses six through eight speaking truth. Job says, when I speak my pain is not relieved, and when I refrain from speaking my pain does not go away. How often we feel stuck in our feelings which shrivel us and highlight our weakness. And while we feel like this, our mind tells us everybody is judging us, and looking down on our weakness as something bad. Its good to remember that weakness is not bad. The truth is, weakness is what the grace of God makes strong. So, weakness is beautiful when humble before God whose power is made perfect in weakness. The cross of Jesus displayed the weakness of flesh and the strength of the Spirit within.
Crushed to Shine through our pain
I don’t understand all this, but I know that when God seems to be crushing us it’s to release the beautiful grace he sees in us. He does not crush to destroy, but to strip away what is concealing and restricting us from flourishing in our uniqueness in Christ and his body. This hope is my capacity to hang on when I feel I’m shrivelling to nothing in a dark place. How often the Holy Spirit leads us in places that overwhelm us so we can learn to live by faith in grace not our strength in achievement. He must do this if he loves us because our strength can’t receive the amazing grace of God with all its treasures.
Wisdom that brings life
I’m finding the words of Job contain the wisdom of life. I don’t understand them all, but the seeds of wisdom keep leaping into my heart to feed my faith, and be light to my moment. All of chapter sixteen and into seventeen Job expands on his pain. Pain that is not being relieved, and on the uselessness of his friends many words. Then in chapter seventeen verses eleven to thirteen we find treasure.
My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
Yet the desires of my heart
turn night into day;
in the face of the darkness light is near.
If the only home I hope for is the grave,
if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,
if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’
where then is my hope—
who can see any hope for me?
Listen to your hearts desire to hope
I relate to this, time is racing by while my plans come to not much, but something from God in my heart keeps my hope alive. A little hope is a powerful light in the darkness of pain. As Job said, “the desires of my heart turn night into day”.
Children of God are born from above by his Spirit. When I was born by the Spirit my old dead heart became a living eternal heart, and from my heart the Spirit speaks to me. He may bring a word through a friend but only when my heart comes alive, is cut with conviction, or burns within me does this word become light to my path and hope to my pain. I seek his word in scripture, listening to messages, and others testimonies, I listen for the word the Spirit is speaking to my heart. Somehow Job knew that in all his pain his heart desired to hope in God, and in the darkness light was near. As it was for Job, I believe it is for us.
Tragedy of losing God
Job gives us wisdom and hope in his words “If the only home I hope for is the grave … where then is my hope – who can see any hope for me?”
The tragedy of our age and society is we have removed everything transcendent. When we remove the transcendent only the grave is left as our destiny. We then tell ourselves (and others) to have hope in pain, and in dark moments. Job tells us there is no hope if all there is before me is a grave. When I make myself my beginning and my end how can I find hope in my pain and dark places? I need more than myself to hope in myself.
I need more than myself to hope in myself.
Fortunately, Job didn’t finish his conversation at the grave, so we get to read these words in chapter 19 verses twenty five to twenty seven.
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes —I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27
Without the benefit of the written word of God, without wise friends who listened and supported, but refrained from simplistic answers (this is something I could easily be guilty of); Job knew his heart desired to know and trust God. He somehow knew his way through his pain was this desire in his heart to hope in the eternal all powerful and good God. This desire is deep in every human heart.
Listen again to Job’s words “How my heart yearns within me!”. These words are full of hope for us. Hope is not how we can understand and can see a way through, or how strong we are. Hope is our heart yearning. And as we connect the yearning in our heart with hope in a transcendent God we find a little hope in our pain, and a little hope in God is enough. Our hope stays alive in the mysterious connection between the deep desires in our heart and the transcendent, personal, all-good God.
When my pain is not relieved
- I need friends, not to give me solutions, but so I am not alone.
- I remember that my strength is not my best resource in having hope, it’s ok to be weak and feel overwhelmed
- I seek rest in my spirit so I can hear God’s word to my heart and have hope.
I’m not giving a solution to pain, or a get out of pain for free in five easy steps. I’m simply reflecting on Job’s journey and seeing some truth. My desire for you is that hope in the redeemer stays alive in your heart when you find yourself in a time when your pain is not being relieved. And our redeemer is Jesus Christ.