The book of Job can be agonizing. We’re in the 16th chapter and what more is there to say on the matter of suffering and a not-quite-right theology? Have we taken the time to consider that this is much of the point of the book? Job offers many questions without giving a whole lot of answers. However, the questions and the repetition are, I think, part of the point of Job.
The book of Job gives us two examples that we see clearly in chapter 16. First, Job calls his friends “sorry comforters” and charges them with “windy words.” Being a friend to someone going through suffering is the Church’s responsibility. However, we must realize that with suffering comes questions—a lot of questions. The Church isn’t in the business of handing out band-aids to those who are suffering; we aren’t called for quick fixes. We are called to suffer alongside, to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6). That means overflowing with grace and truth as the griever processes. But with grace and truth to be effective, it requires T-I-M-E.
To me, it feels like we’ve been in Job for a long time. We’ve been discussing the same ideas. We’ve been reading the same heartbreak and tragic details. Not only that, but we’ve been nagged by Job’s accusing friends. Time is a necessary component to healing. As friends, we need to approach with grace and truth when necessary, but more importantly, we must be generous with time. We can’t push people past hurt too quickly, but let it remain in the light so that healing can come. Repression equals stagnation. Help the suffering let God work by applying grace and truth with time.
The second example we see is Job’s honest heartfelt cries to God. God commends Job in chapter 42 saying that Job has spoken rightly about God. Chapter 16 appears to challenge that statement—”His anger has torn me and hunted me down, He has gnashed at me with His teeth” (v 9). However, what I think is meant is that Job didn’t experience suffering because of sin. Knowing this, Job cried out to God speaking honestly about his struggle. Job didn’t dress up his comments to God. He speaks honestly and clearly, but not always accurately.
Accuracy comes through time and study. However, God wants us to speak to Him right where we are. If you’re suffering, tell God that you’re suffering. If you have a faith struggle, tell God that you’re struggling. It’s amazing how many times I talk to people and say, “Have you asked God about that?” And they look at me like, “No.” Don’t shy away from telling God that you are having a hard time trusting Him through something. He already knows anyway and it’s amazing how that conversation helps.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek to develop our prayer life in accuracy (The Puritan prayer books we have are great examples of theological depth in heartfelt prayers). What I’m saying is don’t wait to pray. Pray now. Prayer doesn’t require a theology degree, it only requires a relationship with God through Jesus. My daughter doesn’t need to know my life’s history to tell me she has a boo boo. I’m her Daddy, she tells me she’s hurt and I’ll help make it better.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate