Reading Time: 3 minutesI sometimes have a very vivid imagination. When I took this photograph, I thought it would be amusing to ask a few people: “what do you think they would say to each other?”
But the picture reminded me of an actual conversation that is recorded in scripture. To be honest, the gist of this conversation startled me for two reasons.
1) I am sure I can recall conversations that were eerily similar to this, and
2) I was struck with the fact that scripture once again shows us the up-close, nitty-gritty of our common human relationships. It would seem from the context that this passage could be applied to some situations where there was/is a terminal illness.
I have a loved one who is dying of cancer, and the following made me stop and think. Was this me? How am I coming across to people I know who are struggling? As you read this passage, it will make you think too; I hope:
Job replied, “I’ve heard many of those things before. You are terrible at comforting me! Your speeches go on forever. Won’t they ever end? What’s wrong with you? Why do you keep on arguing?
If you and I changed places, I could say the same things you are saying. I could make fine speeches against you. I could shake my head at you.
But what I might say would give you hope. My words of comfort would help you. “If I speak, it doesn’t help me. And if I keep quiet, my pain doesn’t go away. God has worn me out completely. He has destroyed my whole family. People can see the condition he has put me in.
My thin body stands as a witness against me. God is angry with me. He attacks me and tears me up. He grinds his teeth at me. He stares at me as if he were my enemy. People make fun of me. They slap my face and laugh at me. All of them join together against me.
God has turned me over to sinful people. He has handed me over to them. Everything was going well with me. But he broke me into pieces like a clay pot. He grabbed me by the neck and crushed me. He has taken aim at me. He shoots his arrows at me from all sides.
Without pity, he stabs me in the kidneys. He spills my insides on the ground. He smashes through me as if I were a wall. He rushes at me like a fighting man. “I’ve sewed black cloth over my skin.
All I can do is sit here in the dust. My face is red from crying. I have deep circles under my eyes. But I haven’t harmed anyone. My prayers to God are pure. “Earth, please don’t cover up my blood! May God always hear my cry for help!
Even now my witness is in heaven. The One who speaks up for me is there. My go-between is my friend as I pour out my tears to God. He makes his appeal to God to help me as a man begs someone to help his friend. “Only a few years will pass by. Then I’ll go on a journey I won’t return from.
(Job 16:1-22, NiRV)
TURNING FROM “MISERABLE COMFORTERS” UNTO GOD
With bitterness the sufferer turns from his comforters to God.
As the R.V. makes clear, he says that if he were in their place and they in his, instead of joining words together and evincing the pride of the immaculate, he would set himself to speak strengthening words and to assuage their grief by tender sympathy.
He compares his pains to the attack of a wild beast, Job 16:7-14; and from this he proceeds to describe the anguish of his grief, Job 16:15-20.
But toward the end of the chapter a new thought begins to shape itself; and from his lowest despair he catches sight of a Vindicator and a vindication that must someday be his.
Job 16:21 should be read as in the R.V., margin. Job wanted a son of man to plead for him; and his prayer has been more than answered in the Son of man, who pleads for us “not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of [a life without hope],” Heb 7:16.
“O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul,” Lam 3:58.
(comments adapted from FB Meyer Bible Commentary).