Today we see Job continuing his rant about the situation he finds himself in. He’s lost all.the.things, he’s lost his family, and he’s lost his health and well being. Not to mention he has some well meaning friends who are doing the best they can to push him over the edge of insanity. With all that has befallen Job he can’t be too far away from the losing his mind, can he? There really isn’t much left that can be done to Job other than take his life and, spoiler alert, that isn’t going to happen.
So what’s left for Job then?
If today’s reading is any indication despair is apparently one option for Job. He seems to be living in that space now or at least within sight of it. He comments starting in v10, “ 10 But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they? 11 As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up,12 so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep.”
Don’t you just want to party with Job? He sounds like a fun time kind of guy to hang out with, doesn’t he? Well, maybe he’s not so much the fun time kind of guy but I think Job is on to something here. He’s definitely feeling the pressure of despair pushing down on him like a sack filled with medium sized rocks. He’s gone from living it up in the good life to being in one sorry situation and he’s feeling it. He’s feeling like hope had left the building and he’s wallowing in a giant pit of despair.
A feeling he is honest about with the friends that surround him because that’s who he is speaking with and ranting to in today’s reading. His friends may be a bit clumsy with their approach to all that Job is experiencing but they deserve credit for sticking around. Their approach of blaming Job for being the cause of his own misery continues and like we discussed last week with Comfort In/Dump Out, they aren’t being particularly helpful. Except for one key thing. They are right there with Job. It isn’t fun or pleasant to be around someone in such misery, feeling like they’re losing their mind and on the edge of despair, but they stay right there.
That’s something most of us can do. And it’s called ministry of presence. No, not like presents as in gifts but presence as in being around. Here’s how it works and is another approach to take when you’re not sure what to say. Be present. Be around. You don’t have to say a whole lot and sometimes it is just better if we don’t say much. Just be around someone close to despair.
Try this. Think back to a time when you were grieving or afflicted and were feeling close to despair. What do you remember most about that time? Can you remember who was there? Can you remember what they said? For most it works out that they can remember who was around but not so much what was said.
Job’s buddies did this ministry of presence and in being around they gave him some space to air out what’s on his mind. That’s good self-care. I’m not big on public sharing of TMI – too much information – but there is a time and a place that each of us need to let loose with a good rant now and again. We all have those life moments where we just feel like nothing is going right and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Please make no mistake, I’m not talking about clinical mental health diagnoses. Those are medical things that medical folks need to be involved in resolving. What I AM talking about is the feeling of hopelessness at the situation around us that weighs us down like a sack filled with medium sized rocks that comes to most everyone, once in a while. What I AM talking about is the feeling of wallowing in a giant pit of despair that comes to most everyone, once in a while.
This is the situation that a trusted friend, or friends like in Job’s case, can be a true blessing. People you can hang out with and be yourself. Perhaps in silence for a week like Job and his crew began with, or in just being present with someone when they need so they can unload what they need.
Kind of like confession of our sins to God does for us. That moment when we’re in the presence of God and we need to unload whatever it is what is weighing us down like a sack filled with medium sized rocks. Sin can have that kind of effect on us and we have a need to get out from under that weight and we need to get out of that despair. The good news for us is that God is ever present in our lives and forgives our sin, removing the weight from us and dragging us out of that pit of despiar. In Christ Jesus we see the depth of God’s love for each of us as Jesus took away our sin when he died on the cross.
Whatever our circumstances, God is present with us.
In the midst of his grieving and affliction, Job felt the presence of God, his redeemer. Close to losing his mind, Job felt the presence of God, his redeemer. On the edge of that deep pit of despair, Job felt the presence of God, his redeemer. And Job doesn’t lose his hope. His hope in God. His hope in God surrounding him with God’s presence in spite of Job’s grieving and affliction.
So too, do we have the presence of God, our redeemer in Jesus Christ. On those days when we feel like we’re close to losing our minds, God in Christ is present with us. On those days when we feel like we’re looking over the edge of that deep pit of despair, God in Christ is present with us. Our hope is in God in Christ, ever present with us our times of grieving and affliction.
And in our hope we are assured once again that our redeemer lives. Lives with and in each of us.