The Book of Mark 12:30 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Heart involves your emotions; soul involves your spirit; mind involves your thinking; strength involves your body. All are equally important, and interconnected.
Yesterday I wrote a rather emotional (heart) post about my recent experiences, combined with my strength (or lack thereof). I received an outpouring of support that I’m incredibly grateful for — but as is usually the case, I also received some less supportive comments.
These tend to sound like this: “if God isn’t the author of evil, or pain, or suffering, why are you angry? You need to change your attitude, and then you’ll be delivered.”
Really? That’s all I have to do?
Well damn, I just wasted a lot of years.
There are about 17 responses I’d like to fire at comments like that which I won’t share here, except to say that’s part of the “lollipop Christianity” I was referring to. Instead I’ll share my 18th comment, which is a short apologetic defending what I shared yesterday.
This isn’t exhaustive by any means — maybe I’ll turn it into a Master’s Thesis someday. But for now, let’s look at the Psalms of Lament, the Book of Job, and a few other passages. Let’s see what the Bible says about crying out, about suffering, about anger, about being pissed off, about being real.
The foundation lies in the Old Testament in the book of Joshua. Joshua 1:5 says, “be strong and courageous, for I will never leave you or forsake you.” It’s the nature of Jesus’ name, Emmanuel, ‘God With Us.’ That’s one of those promises, those truths, that are either real or not.
Another foundation is found in Ephesians 4:26 which says “Be angry, but do not sin…” It’s talking about righteous anger, something that is difficult, perhaps even unattainable for fallen individuals like ourselves. But Paul didn’t have that in mind when he quoted this statement from Psalm 4:4 which we’ll read in a minute — he knew we are imperfect beings.
Jon Bloom said, “There is a kind of anger that comes from our regenerate, Spirit-directed nature, even if it is unavoidably tainted by our indwelling sin as it passes through through the defective filters of our minds and mouths.”
Quite simply, what is righteous anger?
Righteous anger is being angry at what makes God angry. God is not fundamentally angry — we know this from his character throughout Scripture. He is fundamentally righteous. Fundamentally holy. God’s anger is a byproduct of his perfect, holy righteousness.
Okay, maybe I’ve lost you at this point. Here’s a better way to say it.
God isn’t a tyrant. He’s a Heavenly Father.
Tyrants bully, and trample, and rape, and pillage. Fathers love, and embrace, and defend, and rise up in strength.
And there’s something else about Fathers. They listen to their sons and daughters. They especially listen when their children are in distress.
Perhaps the greatest cosmic mystery is why a good, gracious, kind, merciful, loving Heavenly Father would continually allow evil, pain, suffering, and distress. I don’t have the answer. None of us do. But we can take some comfort in a few things, some of which I already spoke of:
- We know he isn’t indifferent, because he sent his Son to live and die on our behalf.
- We know he is globally watching because he is storing up his anger which will one day rain justice like waters (Amos 5:24, Revelation 16).
- We know He is personally watching because he is storing all our tears and all our sorrows in his heavenly bottle (Psalm 56:8). Every single one.
So why is it okay to cry out to God? Why is it okay to get pissed off at God? Why is it okay to get angry, and sad, and confused, and even indifferent?
Because we are angry, and pissed off, and sad, and confused, and even indifferent at the things that God Himself hates. Sin, sadness, sorrows, suffering, pain, agony, distress, depression, loneliness, lies.
I mentioned that at least 90% of the time (at least) I am angry, and pissed off, and sad, and confused at God. What I didn’t mention was one more thing:
I allow myself to cry out to God in my distress because I know he will answer me, and call me by name. But in doing so, I draw a line in the sand that I will never cross:
I will never curse or deny God.
When God said, “have you considered my servant Job” Satan immediately asked God to stretch out his hand and afflict Job and arrogantly uttered that Job would curse God to his face. Job never did.
I’m not Job. But when I’m wrapped in a blanket of shadow and fear, I think to myself, “maybe God is saying ‘have you considered my servant Jason?’ And maybe Satan says, ‘DO THIS and he’ll curse you to your face.’ And God says, ‘go ahead, try it.’”
At the risk of offending some, in these situations this is what I say:
“Fuck you Satan. God is my strength, and my helper, and He is on my side. Whom shall I fear? It sure as hell isn’t you.”
I will yell, and scream, and cry, and cry out…but I will never curse, or deny my God.
To answer those detractors, who feel righteous anger either doesn’t exist, or is inappropriate for those who are suffering, I will say two things:
- Before you say those things please consider if you’ve ever suffered…or suffered to the level of the one you are addressing. Empathy, especially as a Christian, is sadly a lost character trait.
- Here are just a few examples from Scripture:
PSALMS OF LAMENT
(all listed in full for reference)
Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right!
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises1 of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet2 —
I can count all my bones —
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
NOTE: David identifies himself in motive and action with the righteous rather than the wicked. He invites God to test the truth of this claim, yet he still cries out and demands vindication.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
O God, save me by your name,
and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer;
give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life;
they do not set God before themselves.
Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”
Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.
For it is not an enemy who taunts me —
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me —
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.
Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old,
because they do not change
and do not fear God.
My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.
Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
fierce men stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Awake, come to meet me, and see!
You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil.
Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths
with swords in their lips —
for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I
Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!
Forsake me not when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me;
those who watch for my life consult together
and say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.”
O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.
You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you?
Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.3
Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.
I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me.
NOTE: I find it very interesting that when God comes to Job in the whirlwind in Chapter 38, he instructs Job to essentially argue with him…to question with him…to wrestle with him like Jacob in Geneses 32. He never rebukes Job for questioning; for crying out; for being angry at his suffering. God reveals to Job who He is, and out of the majesty of His revelation, Job says the following:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
But we see Job’s anguish and suffering in the following passages:
Job 16 (link)
Job 17 (link)
Job 27 (link)
“And now my soul is poured out within me;
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
The night racks my bones,
and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
With great force my garment is disfigured;
it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.
God has cast me into the mire,
and I have become like dust and ashes.
I cry to you for help and you do not answer me;
I stand, and you only look at me.
You have turned cruel to me;
with the might of your hand you persecute me.
You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it,
and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
For I know that you will bring me to death
and to the house appointed for all living.
“Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
and in his disaster cry for help?
Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
But when I hoped for good, evil came,
and when I waited for light, darkness came.
My inward parts are in turmoil and never still;
days of affliction come to meet me.
I go about darkened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
I am a brother of jackals
and a companion of ostriches.
My skin turns black and falls from me,
and my bones burn with heat.
My lyre is turned to mourning,
and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.
The Psalms of Lament and Job’s response follow a similar pattern. It’s the pattern I followed in yesterday’s post. The pattern is:
1. Anguish / Anger / Pain / Suffering
2. Reflection / Revelation of who God is
Those who suffer know how difficult it is to get past number one. But we have to. It’s the only way that we can get to hope. And hope is what will sustain us.
A few relevant responses:
In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many —
terror on every side! —
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.
Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!
They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them!
By this I know that you delight in me:
my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts —
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves.
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph.
When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
My lips will pour forth praise,
for you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your word,
for all your commandments are right.
Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
HOW TO CARE FOR SUFFERERS
We all know those who are suffering — frankly, we all are to some extent. Here are a few ways to care, and a few things to avoid, when seeking to comfort those in distress:
- Be like Job’s friends. Eliphaz put the blame of Job’s suffering on Job himself, because of what Eliphaz incorrectly perceived to be sin. Bildad did the same. So did Zophar. Of course there are consequences of sin, and sometimes our ‘suffering’ is a direct result of our actions. But often, that’s not the case. Don’t be like Job’s miserable comforters.
- Say it could be worse. For most of us, it’s hard as hell, and that statement couldn’t be more insensitive.
- Give advice unasked for. If we seek your counsel, you’ll know, and we’ll value your input. Otherwise, just don’t do it.
- Pray. A lot. There is power in prayer, and though we try and pray as strength allows, knowing that others are upholding us strengthens our body, soul, and mind.
- Be Quiet. Most of the time, if you’re with us, it’s enough for you to just be there. We don’t always need words, we don’t always need passages or poems or even jokes. The best comfort can just be your presence. Actually, jokes are usually good.
- Seek to Understand. The church as a whole does not understand, nor does it know how to care for those in true suffering. There are exceptions of course, but in general, it’s woefully inadequate. The more you can understand the darkness, shadows, lies, pain, anguish, sorrows, and distress that those who suffer face daily, the more God can use you to transform the church into a place of near perfect rest.
NOTE: A follow up apologetic to “My Reality.” I will continue to add other passages and resources to this post as I can if you would like to follow along. Please feel free to share as much as you would like. God Bless You.
Jason is an entrepreneur, design consultant for non-profits, and writer // he’s starting a new business in 2017 and documenting every step // dad of 3 // “hip” economist