Job 12-14: How can we minister through pain?
This video interview by two of my friends and mentors, Mike Cope and Randy Harris, recalls in our study of Job how friends help one another through times of grief. No matter what we think of how Job's friends were trying, they were there for Job. They were with him when he was feeling crazy, overcome with grief.
Mike and Randy begin their conversation on the topic of preaching when you feel sane and when you feel crazy, when you believe with all your heart, and when you doubt. Mike discusses deep grief in losing his daughter, his nephew, then almost losing his son in a youth group van accident, and how he was surrounded by a church that helped him deal with those deeply difficult times.
As you read the next three chapters of Job, this video is another resource to help us think through how we walk through our own grief and walk with others as well.
“Indeed, I would speak to the Almighty; I insist on arguing with God.
But you invent lies; All of you are quacks.
If you would only keep quiet, it would be considered wisdom on your part" (Job 13:3-5 JPS)
REVIEW OF JOB 3-14
Job has spoken first of his condition in chapter 3.
After Job first speaks about his condition, Eliphaz responds (4-5) and Job responds to Eliphaz (6-7).
Next, Bildad speaks (8) and Job responds to Bildad (9-10).
Then, Zophar speaks (11) and Job responds (12-14).
This wraps the first round of dialogue between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Elihu will come in later.
So here in Job 12-14 Job insists on God’s justice not strained through quacks like his friends! He can’t take their logic, their accusations, the injustice of good things happening to bad people and bad things happening to good people, like Job!
Job starts to sound like the preacher of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth. To some ears he may sound fatatlistic: “Let’s get the inevitable storms overwith!” To others Job may sound resigned to the chaos of nature: “Let’s batton down the hatches and weather the natural storms of life!” Finally to other contemporary ears, Job may sound like one trying to be faithful to God who is in control and we are not. “Come what may, God is in control!”
I love Job’s words to his friends in 13:3-5 in the JPS version: “All of you are quacks.”
Friends muddle their way through life together, and the best of friends know that we are all very often wrong, we spew heresy, we act out of fears and doubt and grief and desperation. Job and his friends can truly tell each other that they are full of it. Good friends, family members, do that from time to time, and it’s necessary. However your family culture and communication works, whether with good natured chiding, writing to one another, arm wrestling, knocking out, discussing, debating, throw downs, prayerful coffee chats, you need to talk about serious differences and issues you are facing together. That’s one of the key definitions of what it means to have good friendships and good families: people who collectively do more than just exist but collectively learn to live together.
Lord, Job speaks (13:24) the question that resounds in the silence when we can’t feel You: “Why do you hide your face?” Why is this the way the world is? Why can’t we interact with you in ways more like what people seem to do in the Bible? Are we missing something? Did we take a wrong turn in our contemporary world? Do we not experience your presence because you are silent? Hiding? Have we hidden from you? Are we unskilled in hearing You? Or something else? Show us your face in ways we can live with.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.