20 October 2009
11 But I do not have the strength to endure. I do not have a goal that encourages me to carry on. 12 Do I have strength as hard as stone? Is my body made of bronze? 13 No, I am utterly helpless, without any chance of success. 25 Honest words are painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? 26 Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation? (Job 6:11-13, 25-26 NLT)
These things stood out to me from Job’s response to the charges and accusations his “friend” Eliphaz leveled at him:
• Job 6:11 It’s doubly hard to hold on and not give up if you’re in so much present pain nothing makes sense and you’ve lost your sense of vision and purpose for the future. Job was a strong man, a man of character and integrity, but when he sat helpless and confused, with no goal or purpose to drive him forward, he said, “I can’t go on. I just want to die!”
• Job 6:13 Hopelessness creates helplessness. Even someone who is intelligent and competent becomes confused, negative, and fearful when hope is gone. You’ve got to have hope before you can receive help.
• Job 6:25 Truth-telling, honest words from a faithful friend, though painful to hear, can be like a surgeon’s scalpel, skillfully removing a cancer that would ultimately kill me. Words of compassionless criticism are like a dull axe that batters, tears, and crushes. Criticism only increases the sense of “aloneness” and hopelessness.
• Job 6:26 People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! Eliphaz was giving advice without listening to Job’s desperate cry for help. Advice and correction may be needed sometimes, but it’s not the primary task of a friend. The role of a friend is to be a friend, to be simply present, to listen, to encourage, to love. When my friend is confused or discouraged, I’ve got to remember to listen, really listen, before spouting off answers.
Father, Help me to help people find hope and purpose when they are confused and discouraged. May I never confuse “truth-telling” with compassionless criticism, or spout off advice without really listening to their desperate cry. May my presence and my words give peace for the present, hope for the future, and courage to carry on. Amen.