Scripture to meditate on:
My spirit is broken,
my days are cut short,
the grave awaits me.
Surely mockers surround me;
my eyes must dwell on their hostility.
“Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.
Who else will put up security for me?
You have closed their minds to understanding;
therefore you will not let them triumph.
If anyone denounces their friends for reward,
the eyes of their children will fail.
“God has made me a byword to everyone,
a man in whose face people spit.
My eyes have grown dim with grief;
my whole frame is but a shadow.
The upright are appalled at this;
the innocent are aroused against the ungodly.
Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
“But come on, all of you, try again!
I will not find a wise man among you.
My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
Yet the desires of my heart
turn night into day;
in the face of the darkness light is near.
If the only home I hope for is the grave,
if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,
if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’
where then is my hope—
who can see any hope for me?
Will it go down to the gates of death?
Will we descend together into the dust?” – Job 17
Job has sunk deep into self-pity. He has lost hope. He is depressed and discouraged. Who can blame him? No doubt we’ve all experience moments of hopelessness and depression. Acknowledging those feelings and giving vent to them in healthy constructive ways is appropriate.
The challenge is recognizing when grieving has given way to despair. Where is that fine line between giving appropriate space for grieving, and wallowing in self-pity? How do we begin to turn a corner when it is time for our own season of grief to come to an end?
While it is clear that pain and suffering are an inevitable part of the human experience, it is just as clear that God does not intend for us to pitch our tent and live perpetually in the land of self-pity. Jesus told his disciples that he came that they might experience the abundance of all that life had to offer (John 10:10). But that abundance is only experienced in the context of knowing and living in Christ.
Again as we step back from the story of Job we begin to see that the larger story of human pain and suffering can only make sense if viewed through the suffering of Christ. Through the sacrifice of the cross the suffering of Jesus has redeemed the suffering of us all. Even the long-suffering Job.
“My spirit is broken; my days are extinguished; the grave is ready for me.” – Job 17:1
Questions to ponder:
- What do you think Jesus would say to Job about his losses?
- How does the suffering of Job relate to the suffering of the Cross?