Reading almost any selection from the Middle of Job, you will get the picture. Job’s Friends finally get to the heart of the matter–what did you do?
Here is a short interchange
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
3 Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed. ‘
17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[a]
18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
Job: “Although I am blameless,
I have no concern for myself;
I despise my own life.
22 It is all the same; that is why I say,
‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When a scourge brings sudden death,
he mocks the despair of the innocent.
24 When a land falls into the hands of the wicked,
he blindfolds its judges.
If it is not he, then who is it?
Job 11: 10, 13-16
Zophar “If he comes along and confines you in prison
and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
16 You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Job 19: 7-10
“Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.
Who’s fault is this?
Someone must have done something wrong…
And we know God isn’t in the wrong so….
When terrible things happen, we are good at sympathy for a while. When disaster strikes or invasive/long-term illnesses, accidents or poverty happens, we try to help.
And what we think (in our confused human brains) would be helpful is to find the cause of the trouble. Who is to blame.
Are we poor because the economy is down? Did I make bad choices? Is it the government’s fault? The corporation? Mine?
Even for illnesses we start to blame things, Did I get cancer from food? Talking on the cell phone too much? Did I not pay enough attention to my body, should I have noticed things sooner? …..Since preaching this sermon I have had two people have major problems with cancer, and I bet they have had all of these thoughts…..
We try to blame someone or something…..Because if we can figure out what the cause is maybe we can “fix” the problem…
There was a recent article about a woman who was on food stamps with a corvette, and people tried to figure it out “why do you have a corvette if you are on food stamps” (the woman pointed out that she knew it didn’t fit) and offering “help” in the form of fixes “you should just sell your mercedes if you need money so much...but the truth was the car was paid off and reliable and there was no way a cheaper car wouldn’t in the long run “cost more” so they kept it…but there were people, judging the situation. This wasn’t helpful in the least, the family would still be struggling and poor whether they took people’s advice or not.
The truth is, these problems can’t be fixed.
Our job, as Christians is to be present with the brother-in-law who had an allergic reaction to the surgery meds, to the sister who finally was able to undergo sexual re-assignment surgery, to the friend who is now helping another person with cancer, to a congregant who has been given 4-6 months to live…
My assumption is to (at least try) think that every individual is doing AS MUCH AS THEY CAN TO BE THE BEST THEY CAN BE at work, at home, as a parent, congregant, friend, and if that person is not measuring up they probably already know it. Our job is to listen to where people are, to hear their problems, hear what is difficult, and to be present with them at that time, without judging.
Just to be
Sit with them
Cry with them
Note the little things that help with them
Get angry at the big things that hurt
Not to fix, not to blame
but to be present
That is our job as Christians, its the hardest job, its harder to watch and wait and be than to do….
To talk, discuss and analyze in order to help to process–but not to figure everything out because some things are just too big for us to fix.
Be present….for we know God is present with us