Poor Job. Stuck with ordinary humans in the complaint department.
Often--not always--when I struggle with depression or the unanswerable "whys" of life, a well-meaning friend will try to jolly me out of my depression. They repeat theology I know as well as they do. I know all of that. But right now, I'm hurting and the answers don't satisfy.
Zophar was like those friends. "You've put my teeth on edge, my stomach in a knot." (Job 20:2) Both because of Job's situation--but even more for his persistent refusal to be satisfied with easy answers. Trials=sin. Confess and get right with God. Have you ever heard of "blaming the victim?" Zophar had it down to a science.
When people give me pat answers, I generally attempt to accept it in the spirit it's meant: comfort.
Job's patience had run out. He finally lashes out as his friends. "It's not you I'm complaining to--it's God. Is it any wonder I'm getting fed up with his silence? Take a good look at me. Aren't you appalled by what's happened? No! Don't say anything. I can do without your comments."
Aren't you appalled by what's happened?
Did the friends say any words of horror, words that aren't recorded in the Bible? Or did they jump into their sermons, attack on Job and his character?
When my daughter took her life, the question we were asked the most often was "how did it happen?" followed by "did you have any clues?"
As my mother put it, "why? Do you want to do it yourself?"
The grisly nightly news, reenacted in my house. They wanted details. And actually, we had good reason to think Jolene was in a good place that day. We had made plans for her birthday. Police had seen her, and left, convinced she was in a good place.
At least our last conversation was a good one.
At least my friends realized my loss was appalling.
Job was tired of the flunkies trying to answer. He had the faith--like David, in the psalms, so far in his future--to complain directly to God. He wasn't whispering his doubts in someone's ear, hoping God couldn't hear him. Job was shouting at God!
When God's answer is neither, yes, no, or even wait awhile? When it's total silence?
Job wanted, needed, answers NOW. And God wouldn't oblige.
When your friends are struggling, Job would advise: Don't blame the victim. Don't offer easy answers. Join them in silence. Allow them to express their feelings. Share in their pain.