Have you ever thought something to be so true, only to find out later that you were so wrong? I do this with song lyrics often. I’ll be singing at the top of my lungs and think, that doesn’t sound right. I look up the lyrics and sure enough, I had that line wrong for years!
There are other more serious scenarios where I didn’t discern the situation correctly and was stuck with my so-called tail between my legs. Sometimes it’s a matter of not having enough information, receiving misleading information, or our past experiences have led us to believe that situations lead to certain outcomes.
I don’t believe that I ever did anything out of pride or envy. I never want to see someone down on their luck get crushed even further. But it is something to consider when giving advice to someone. There needs to be a certain amount of discernment involved when counseling others.
I think it is a natural response for humans to question why certain things happen to them. I also believe that, as friends trying to help those questioning, we often feel the need to try to explain why that said thing could’ve happened. Where is our truth coming from? Is it okay to not have an answer? Can we still be comforting without it? Is it better to just not sing the lyrics, or continue making our own words up, blinded to the real words and meaning of the song?
We do have a one-up on Job’s friends. We know that God allowed Satan to test Job and try to sway his faithfulness. God even says that Job is a righteous man and that this test is not a punishment. His friends, however, can’t even comprehend this as a possibility. They are getting the lyrics all wrong. Let’s consider those questions above as we read on.
S – Scripture: Job 32-34
- 32:2-3 – “Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, became angry. He was angry because Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him. He was also angry with Job’s three friends, for they made God appear to be wrong by their inability to answer Job’s arguments.”
- 32:12-14 – “I have listened, but not one of you has refuted Job or answered his arguments. And don’t tell me, ‘He is too wise for us. Only God can convince him.'”
- 33:9-13 – “You said, ‘I am pure; I am without sin; I am innocent; I have no guilt. God is picking a quarrel with me, and he considers me his enemy. He puts my feet in the stocks and watches my every move.’ But you are wrong, and I will show you why. For God is greater than any human being. So why are you bringing a charge against him? Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?”
- 33:23-25 -“But if an angel from heaven appears–a special messenger to intercede for a person and declare that he is upright–he will be gracious and say, ‘Rescue him from the grave, for I have found a ransom for his life.’ Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s, firm and youthful again.”
- 34:11-13 – “He repays people according to their deeds. He treats people as they deserve. Truly, God will not do wrong. The Almighty will not twist justice. Did someone else put the world in his care? Who set the whole world in place?”
- 34:21-22 -“For God watches how people live; he sees everything they do. No darkness is thick enough to hide the wicked from his eyes.”
- 34:36-37 – “Job, you deserve the maximum penalty for the wicked way you have talked. For you have added rebellion to your sin; you show no respect, and you speak many angry words against God.”
O – Observation:
- Elihu speaks against Job. He is angry because Job won’t admit his sin to God and that God has the right to punish him.
- He questions why and how Job can accuse God of doing these things to him. He thinks Job has not right (and is guilty) to come at God that way.
- Elihu claims that God would speak to Job if only he would repent – Job is clearly being punished.
- Satan works by twisting the truth in the slightest way.
- We must be careful to discern God’s truth among all of the other noise spoken to us.
- Elihu wasn’t necessarily speaking falsely about God and his justice, but he definitely didn’t know what was going on. Again, he had the head knowledge of God, but not the heart knowledge that Job had.
- We really don’t know how God works or why he does the things he does.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
A – Application:
One of the greatest things that people said to Dan and I as we went through our miscarriages was, “I’m so sorry, I’ll be praying for you.” This may seem like a passive response, but it was all that I needed and wanted to hear. I knew they meant it, and I felt those prayers.
I didn’t want a discussion or explanation of what may have caused this or why God would allow it. I coudn’t handle that. I just wanted to sad and angry for a time. Knowing that people who loved me were praying for me was all I really wanted.
This is just my opinion, but I think that sometimes we are too quick to try to resolve a situation and move on. Sometimes we need to just sit with the pain, sadness, anger, confusion, and grief. We personally, and others alongside us, may not know how to deal with those emotions so we try to brush them off with platitudes and earthly explanations.
What I also think, is that it’s in those deep emotions that God can really work. If I hadn’t stopped to rest, physically and mentally, I may have missed out on feeling the most gentle grace and love that I have ever felt. If I had just put those emotions in a box and buried them deep inside I wouldn’t have been able to experience God’s amazing power to redeem and grow my life into something new and beautiful. The alternative would have been fear, doubt, loss of faith and hope in God, bitterness, anger, etc. I may have just become an empty shell instead of a thriving vessel for God to use.
What my life is turning into is nothing that I could’ve explained or imagined. God is working. I truly believe that it is beacause, in all of the wrestling though the emotions, I have allowed God to work and to heal me.
But it started with friends and family allowing me to do that. By praying for me and giving me a hug without saying anything, I had the room and grace to seek out the answers from God alone. He, above all, had to me my healer, counselor, and redeemer.
This wasn’t always easy, in fact, I don’t think it has been since this started a year and a half ago. I had to focus on “taking captive every thought” and “renewing my mind” amidst all of the emotion to lead me back to God when I felt weak and helpless. There were many tears and moments of doubt, but it always lead back to trusting in the Almighty Redeemer. He became my fortress and shield.
Words fall short most of the time. Prayers are never missed by God. He always hears. I guess my advice out of all of this is to give yourself and your friends or family the space to wrestle with those tough emotions. You can be there to hold them up and pray bold prayers to a God who can do far more than we can hope or imagine. Sometimes the person going through the hurt can’t pray those yet, and that’s okay. Many times we need others around us to believe that God can make something beautiful when all we see is destruction and tragedy.
What I recall needing prayers for the most include 1.) God’s gentle and abundant grace and healing, and 2.) God’s protection over the heart’s of those hurting, that fear and doubt would be far from them.
I urge you, and I’m speaking to myself too, to not make things worse with your words. If you don’t know what to say, stay silent and pray. God may give you some words to share or use your silent presence as a source of comfort. Trust that God is working and that he has a plan out of our tragedies, beyond explanation. Don’t sing (in this case) without know all of the lyrics. Allow God to work without putting him in a box of our own, small thinking and vision. Let our big and majestic God do big and majestic things with our lives.
P – Prayer:
God, I thank you so much that you are bigger and more loving than any hurt or tragedy that comes our way. It can be easier to box up those tough emotions and not deal with them. I felt like I would lose control if I let one out of the box. But it was when I did that you had room to work. We could tackle it together. You never left me alone in my pain. You are so good.
Lord, I lift up those who are hurting today. Would you nudge them to give themselves rest and space to stop and be with you? Could you show them your gentle grace and love in that place? Protect their hearts from the lies that Satan dishes out. May the arrows of doubt and fear not touch them.
May you redeem and heal us and those around us Lord. Make good on the bad things we have experienced. Make us beautiful and thriving again. Amen.