Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"You need to LISTEN!"

Day #19:  Daily Bible Reading - January 16th

Scripture Reading:  Job 5 - 6 ...

Job was hurting ... understandably so; yet he maintained his faith in God.  Not until his three friends came and remained silent for seven days, weeping and wailing upon seeing Job in such misery, yet saying nothing to comfort or encourage him, that Job began to feel sorry for himself and to question what God was doing.  Surely his friends would now come to his rescue - pointing him to the God who never abandons His children.  But no such comfort was forthcoming!

Instead, Eliphaz speaks without understanding and places himself in the role of God.  It is a temptation for many of us when speaking with people who are suffering to assume that we know what they are thinking and what they need to hear to move forward.  Job's friends should have immediately pointed Job to his faithful God and encouraged him in his faith.  Even when Job wished that he had never been born, they had the opportunity to correct Job without judging him ... but instead, they began to speak without wisdom OR compassion.

Eliphaz assumes that Job must not be innocent in this.  He says some things that are true:  "Who, being innocent, has ever perished?  Where were the upright ever destroyed?" (4:7)  In Chapter 5, he brands Job a "fool" (5:2-3), and tells him to lay his cause before the Lord, but to accept the Lord's discipline (5:8,17).  If, indeed, Job was being disciplined by God, this was fair advice ... but he wasn't.  Eliphaz made an assumption that many make today.  Since no one is without sin, it is easy to assume that most or all suffering is discipline from the Lord, but it isn't!  Certainly, that is not the case with Job in his current situation.

Eliphaz declares, "We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself" (5:27).  That may have been a popular saying, but in this situation it comes across as arrogant and judgmental.  In response, Job seems to accept that God is disciplining him and he grieves his present circumstances.  Still, he does not want to deny God's words (6:10).  He confesses that he cannot help himself (6:13), and virtually begs for support from his friends, but considers them "undependable"(6:15) and so feels more alone than before they came.  "Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid" (6:21).

What were Job's friends afraid of?  Maybe they were afraid that they were going to have to care for Job or perhaps they were afraid that if this could happen to Job, it could happen to them!  People who are suffering need wisdom, and the only way to have the necessary wisdom to speak a message from God is to listen - really listen - to the person who is suffering AND to God speaking to YOU, so that you can apply God's Word correctly to the situation at hand.  I have made the mistake of speaking too quickly and speaking without wisdom from God.  Encouragement is always helpful.  Pointing people to God is always right.  Beyond that, be careful how you speak, when you speak, what you speak, and God may use you to bring healing to a friend.

"My Father in heaven, You have healed my heart and my soul so often in the midst of suffering and trials.  Now help me to be an agent of healing to those around me as I listen, as I pray and as I share YOUR Word with my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.  May YOU be glorified through the words you give me to speak.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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