A Cord of Three Strands

An eruption of confusion

Posted by David Staff on

Job 3:1-4, 23-26

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.

And Job said: “Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes instead of my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet. I have no rest, but trouble comes.”

Anxiety. Distress. Uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune (dictionary.com). Job finally vents. He’s overwhelmed by all that has exploded in his life, and after 7 days and nights of silence, he must let it out. At least 3 sets of ears witness the outburst, and no doubt the Lord himself is leaning in (cf. Psalm 139:4).

Psychologists tell us that venting is a coping mechanism. A twoway process involving the one venting and the one listening, and it is critical that the listener respond with empathy rather than sympathy. The former response lets the one hurting know you are “putting yourself in his/her shoes,” identifying with the angst. Negatively, sympathy keeps a distance, merely offering unhelpful platitudes like “Well, it could be worse” or “it’s not that bad” (“The Psychology of Venting,” ThoughtHub, March 16, 2017). Truly helpful friends who share the tough stuff empathize; they don’t minimize or judge.

When reading all of Job 3, you experience the extent of Job’s crushed heart. In light of all that has happened—if there is still reason and purpose for what happens to people in this world—he no longer understands the important “whys” in his life. Why was I born? Why couldn’t I have died soon after birth, to be at rest? Why was I given light? No clear rationale appears.

When God’s purposes for what happens in our lives are foggy, our hearts stumble through unanswered questions. We need friends who will patiently listen, love, identify, refuse to judge…to share the tough stuff.

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