Ant’s-Eye View

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JOB 27:2 CEV-EN

I am desperate because
God All-Powerful refuses
to do what is right.
As surely as God lives,

OBSERVATION
Job speaks as if he knows what God is thinking. He assumes that the “right” thing to do would be to remove the suffering Job is experiencing and fix all that has broken in his life.

APPLICATION
I’ve felt that way before. And I’ve definitely heard people speak like that: “I could never believe a loving God would do this… or allow this… God wrongly did that…”
This are dangerous statements to make. How could an ant ever speak into the validity of the actions of humans? Not that all we do is right, not by a long stretch, but that doesn’t mean an ant has any context for our actions. It’s view and understanding of the world is so tiny and narrow compared to ours, it just can’t compare.
In the same way, how can a human presume to tell God that He is doing something wrong? Especially when we know God to be loving and care for us. If God cares, should we not assume that he has a reason for allowing the things that happen?
Even more so…who are we to declare that any calamity that falls on us is not well-deserved? Job was a righteous man. But he is still a sinful human. He isn’t perfect. That applies both to his guilt, in that he is never innocent, and to his perspective, in that he can never see all of what God sees.

PRAYER
God help me. Help me to be more mindful of your greatness, and not take my relationship with you for granted. You are good, no matter what my circumstance is. Thank you for that. You are far more than I deserve. Amen.

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How Not To Comfort People

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JOB 16:1-5 CEV-EN

Job said:
   I have often heard this,
and it offers no comfort.
   So why don’t you keep quiet?
What’s bothering you?
   If I were in your place,
it would be easy to criticize
or to give advice.
   But I would offer hope
and comfort instead.

Job is a guy who had it tough. Life is awesome, and then everything he has is taken away. All his stuff is stolen and burned. His kids all die. His wealth is taken. And then his health fails, in the form of sores and boils. Life goes from great to “just let me die”.

And then, his friends show up. And they tell him how bad a person he must be to earn all of this pain and suffering. Nice friends. These must be the guys that inspired the saying, “with friends like these…”

And here, after a few rants and exchanges with his friends, he calls them out. He gets it. He sees how easy it is for them to give advice and try to fix it for him. He knows that if he were on the other side of this, it would be easy to criticize and blame the situation on the person.

This is what guys do. We “fix” things. We tell each other how to do it better. I’ve made that mistake in my marriage, try to fix the problem my wife brings to me. But most of the time, she wants someone (specifically me) to listen and empathize with her.

This is what Job needs: for his friends to empathize and offer comfort and hope. Whether he is right or wrong, he needs his friends to help lift him up.

We, the readers, have the benefit of knowing the backstory. God allowed Job to be tempted with these calamities only because he was so righteous and devoted to God. But even if we don’t know the story, the more righteous way to handle this would be to offer comfort and support.

I need to be reminded of this. I need to hear that offering comfort, support, an open ear, love; this is the way to reach someone who is suffering, whether they have brought it on themselves or not. Because even if they “deserve” their circumstance, or have caused it, love and support will not only help them, but it’s more likely to open a door to God moving in their life.

And that is what we are here for, to spread the good news that there is hope.