Scripture to meditate on:
“But now they mock me,
men younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to put with my sheep dogs.
Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,
since their vigor had gone from them?
Haggard from want and hunger,
they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night.
In the brush they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom bush.
They were banished from human society,
shouted at as if they were thieves.
They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,
among the rocks and in holes in the ground.
They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the undergrowth.
A base and nameless brood,
they were driven out of the land.
“And now those young men mock me in song;
I have become a byword among them.
They detest me and keep their distance;
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
they throw off restraint in my presence.
On my right the tribe attacks;
they lay snares for my feet,
they build their siege ramps against me.
They break up my road;
they succeed in destroying me.
‘No one can help him,’ they say.
They advance as through a gaping breach;
amid the ruins they come rolling in.
Terrors overwhelm me;
my dignity is driven away as by the wind,
my safety vanishes like a cloud.
“And now my life ebbs away;
days of suffering grip me.
Night pierces my bones;
my gnawing pains never rest.
In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;
he binds me like the neck of my garment.
He throws me into the mud,
and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.
“Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
when he cries for help in his distress.
Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.
The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.
I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.
My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.
My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my pipe to the sound of wailing.” – Job 30
Yesterday, we read as Job looked wistfully over his shoulder at his prosperous past. Today we read as Job’s thoughts return to his problematic present.
Job laments that while he was once revered and honored in his community, now he has become the object of gossip, a mere punch line. While once he was strong and healthy, now he is weak and in constant pain. While once he was optimistic and hopeful, now Job wishes only for the end of his life.
We are constantly admonished to “live in the present” while this is good advice (indeed the present is the only time we have) what if your “present” is, like Job’s, filled with pessimism?
The pursuit of happiness in the present is so relevant that it is being studied by modern science. Among the early findings, is the need for close supporting relationships. We are created for relationship, and have a deep need to belong. A recent Gallup survey found that those with intimate friendships or committed marriages were much likelier to declare themselves “very happy”. Similarly those who regularly attended religious services were also much more likely to place themselves in the “very happy” category of the survey.
It’s ironic to note that the relationships that should be providing hope and comfort to Job during his trial, are instead an additional source frustration. May we all have better friends, and –be– better friends.
“And now those young men mock me in song; I have become a byword among them.” – Job 30:9
Questions to ponder:
- How have meaningful relationships helped you to weather times of crisis?
- Where are you most likely to build lasting meaningful friendships?