If anything, digging into Job is inspiring me to be a better friend.
I don’t want to be the kind of friend that blows hot air when a hurting friend needs a breath of fresh.
I want to whisper words of hope.
Because that’s what Job needed and it’s what he was desperately clinging to, even if his friends weren’t delivering.
I catch glimpses of it.
It breaks forth like so much promise.
In Job 13, Job defends himself to his friends.
He starts off getting in their faces and I’ve gone from wanting to slap them to applauding Job’s fighting spirit.
‘Cause it’s still in there!
It’s not completely lost in self pity.
It’s not totally hidden beneath self loathing.
It’s not entirely overshadowed by despair.
It’s still there.
And it’s coming on strong,
“Everything you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. Yet I prefer to speak to the Almighty and argue my case before God…If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom.” vs. 3-4 (CSB)
You go, Job!
Sometimes we need to tell certain people who may mean well or who insist on giving us their two-cents worth without us asking for it to, Shut up.
Or as any good mother who desires to teach her child good manners would say, Please be quiet.
I know there have been times when I’ve just not known when to shut my mouth.
I look back on some of the things I’ve said to others in their times of need and distress and I’ve actually been ashamed of myself.
I’ve even been convicted enough to apologize.
Because I also remember what it’s been like to be on the receiving end of speeches meant to inspire me, yet have incensed me instead.
They’ve made me like a smoldering wick. Ready to spout fumes.
Maybe that’s what happened to Job.
Something inside him ignited.
Yes. Deep down. Job was a fighter.
It’s that fighting spirit that clings to hope.
Job was really an even-if-kinda-guy.
“Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him.”
Even if He kills me…
Job wasn’t placing his hope in his friends. Or his faithless wife.
His hope was in God Himself.
Can you say the same?
These are uncertain times we’re living in.
As a nation, we’ve not really been this way before in our lifetimes.
Not all of us are responding the same. Not all of us are on the same page. Not all of us feel the same. Act the same. Process the same.
But in the name of heaven, those who place their hope in God Himself need to pay attention to what those around us are really feeling and saying.
The NLT translation of Job 13:3-4 is this:
“Oh, how I long to speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God Himself. For you are smearing me with lies…That’s the smartest thing you could do. LISTEN to my charge: PAY ATTENTION to my arguments.”
As a friend, I want to pay attention and learn to listen with my heart.
When I do, I can respond in a way the Holy Spirit leads. Honestly? There have been times when all I’ve known to do is wrap my arms around someone and say with tears, “I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry. I’m just so very sorry.”
But Job didn’t get that from his friends. Somehow, from within that deep, dark place where his sanity was threatened, hope arose like a shining star.
Like Daniel’s Shadrach, Meshaq, and Abednego, Job had an even-if heart.
The 3 Hebrew exiles had told King Nebuchadnezzar,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Job pretty much felt the same way.
This is what an even-if heart does.
The only hope it has when faced with the fiery furnace or the trials of life or the uncertainties of economic strain or viral pandemics is to know that no matter the outcome–complete deliverance or taking that final breath–God is still God and He is still worth every ounce of hope that flows through our veins.
This is a hope that revives the weary.
Comforts the anxious.
Promises the victory.
When troubles and misfortunes threaten to steal hope away, an even-if heart gives a steely resolve.
It endures the fiery furnace.
Outlives trials and hardships.
Outlasts viral pandemics.
It’s what faith in God does for us.
It’s what Jesus died to give us.
Hope that life on this earth is not all there is.
Because of the saving grace of Christ through His death and resurrection, I have an eternity with Him to look forward to. This is my hope.
And it’s worth fighting for in the here and now.
In these days on the kingdom calendar, this is a season of hard things for many.
If we say nothing else, let’s be the kind of friend who whispers words of hope.
Who breathe fresh air into the lungs of those who are struggling.
Who know when to speak and when to be silent.
Who rise up and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
Let’s say to one another,
I know you.
Deep down, you’re a fighter. And this will not defeat you.
So you can count on me.
I will encourage you.
I will walk beside you.
I will even hold your hand.
And you can bet, I will pray for you.
Faith, Faith Journey, Faith Walk, Faithful Followers, Strength for the Weary, Encourage One Another, Speak Peace, Speak Hope, Hope in Christ, Hope in God,