Lessons from the Book of Job
1. I am too much like Job’s friends.
Too often when someone shares their grief or pain, I want to fix it. In his book, The Listening Life, Adam McHugh writes about how to listen to those in pain. He suggests letting people have their pain and helping them to be able to express that pain. This means listening and asking good questions.
He also writes how anxiety gets in the way of our listening to those in pain. This anxiety could come from unresolved grief in our life. Adam says, “If you have not explored the grieving part of yourself, you will likely be ineffective at listening to the grief of others.” If I keep grief bottled up inside, it is not healthy for me and hinders me listening to others in their grief. The anxiety might also be caused from a worry that their pain will be too much for us. This hit home for me. I am often anxious about what I should say or what I should do that I miss out on what the other person is actually saying!
2. Endurance Leads to Hope
And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last He will take His stand on the earth.
In the midst of his suffering, Job sees the hope of a savior.
Paul in his letter to the Romans also talks about how endurance leads to hope. In chapter 5, Paul writes that tribulation brings perseverance (i.e. endurance) which builds character resulting in hope. Our hope is not that our circumstance will get better, but hope in a redeemer who can save. Paul describes it as “a hope that does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:5 NAS)
Endurance is a foreign concept to us in an era where we don’t usually have to wait for anything. When suffering comes, we are okay for a day or two, then we are ready for the suffering to go away and for our prayers to be answered. We passed the test. God is good. We move on. But sometimes the hard does not go away, and our endurance is tested. In an interview at the 2016 IF: conference, Katherine Wolf talks about her disability and how there came a day she realized that her suffering was not a drill. This was her new reality. God was still good, but life was still hard. Yet in the hard, she found hope. In fact, she and her husband wrote a book about their life called Hope Heals.
Looking back on our time in Central Asia, I see how endurance led to hope. We came away from there with a stronger hope in our Redeemer even when many of the things we wanted to see happen did not.
3. It is in my emptiness that I am most ready to hear God’s whisper.