“Then Job answered: ‘How long will you torment me and crush me with words? You have humiliated me ten times now, and you mistreat me without shame.” Job 19:1-3, CSB
Greetings and Happy 2021 Everyone!
First, I apologize for an extended absence, I could propose several scapegoats but instead I am excited to share that I finished my classes last semester with A’s across the board- the price (in time writing) was steep, but not without reward.
Moving forward, those hard won good grades will contribute to what I believe will be a bright final semester beginning this week! The countdown to May 14th has officially begun!! (Right behind May 15th- My little sister’s wedding day!!)
In further news, if you have been following the Declare Hope Facebook page you will probably have noticed that last week I began posting early morning videos discussing people/ places and events within my Bible reading for the week. This shenanigan was born of a challenge and a timely gifted white board- and I must say has proven to be quite fun.
Reading the Bible in chronological order- we are continuing in the book of Job this week.
Last week I noted in the video that Job’s friends; Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz, began with good intentions- horribly carried out.
The friends who sat with Job for 7 days in silence, providing the ministry of presence- somehow failed to hear what Job was saying in the depth of his grief and despair.
Their initial responses were not only horrible- but wrong.
Worse- they are grounded in just enough truth about God, his sovereignty and character- to make readers sometimes wonder, reflecting their own doubts.
Personally, Job’s friends’ responses are ones I recall myself lobbying against my own conscience, looking for an explanation or solution to something beyond an answer.
“Suffering as Punishment”
“Accusation/ challenge against/of Faith” and
“It could be Worse” or “You deserve Worse.”
These are not appropriate responses or solutions to the problem of grief.
Further, they are theologically incorrect- and cruel lies.
Unfortunately, this week the dialogue has only escalated. As Job went on the defense, pleading his innocence- his friends continued to solidify their accusations. They are no longer seeking to comfort Job, but bully him into confession.
But their intentions… I personally believe their original intentions… were born out of care for their friend.
So… the question remains… How did they get there? How did the sides blur, then divide? What drove the division?
This week, as I read Job, I saw a reflection of him and his friends- as they threw unrelentingly harsh words back and forth- on my Facebook page. Politics… Policies… Perceptions… the division has been driven deep.
People who were best of friends, family members – left with broken hearts, feelings and ransacked trust.
Different time, different difficulties… and yet the question- how did we get here?
The comments, the retaliation, the accusations, the defenses…I remember when the high crime on Facebook was sending unwanted FarmVille invites…
And then the ban.
How did we get here?
Drawing from my time as an older sister, consequent experienced mediator and a novice hospital chaplain…
Could it be, upon reflection, we are listening but not hearing one another? That Job’s friends were listening to respond- not to hear.
I sit and listen daily (or… nightly I suppose), to situations that I have no solution to… I am a “fixer” by personality- and yet there are realities that are far beyond my understanding- and even further beyond my control.
It’s difficult, I believe most of us are “fixers” by nature. We are wired to respond, to propose, to offer a solution. We want to make it better.
Because we care.
But sometimes, like Job’s friends, we can be so committed to our response- to being correct- we forget the person on the other end of our conversation. We see their disagreement as a personal challenge.
Job’s friends who knew Job as a righteous man in their debate forgot who they knew Job to be. Somehow, Job became the enemy.
And surrounded by friends prepared to listen, his grief went unheard. Worse, desperation and frustration took the place of support and reassurance.
… The oldest story in the Bible (aside from Creation of course) and yet we haven’t changed so much.
Spoiler Alert- The relationship between Job and his friends is restored when God comes into the conversation… and proposes excuse justice imminently- and Job prays on their behalf. Reconciliation wins- Thank you Jesus.
Friends, I pray that this New Year brings you all peace and comfort and every good thing. Remember, you are loved more than you would or could ever dare to dream. And, you are heard.
As a finale to this lengthy, late, post- I wanted to give an update concerning another story on friends from the Old Testament- David and Jonathan.
I received the official email that physical copies were being shipped out and headed my way as of January 5th, they should arrive within 3 weeks! Even more exciting, 3-5 days after I receive my copies they will be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble (along with other booksellers)- I will keep you posted as to when the day arrives!
Thank you to everyone who has endured this journey with me! Below is a picture of the cover, which I also added to the David and Jonathan page. Friends, we are doing it. We’ve done it.
And I am excited to announce another project is underway- details to come!