Monday

8 October 2018

Job 23:1-17

Today also my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. (v. 2)

Psalm: Psalm 4

Background

Eliphaz the Temanite has had his say (Job 22), and it has not had the desired effect of bringing comfort and encouragement to Job. He feels hemmed in and the doors of heaven slammed shut to his misery. How very sad Job is, while still maintaining a confidence in the justice of God. God is more than Job can take, and yet more absent that he can imagine, and terrifying to boot.

C. S. Lewis describes his bereavement on the death of his wife, in A Grief Observed. “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.” Like Job, C. S. Lewis senses that God has abandoned him. His experience forces upon him the realisation that he has neither fully grasped what God is like, or what his faith is like. Slowly in the book, as Job, he learns to ask the right questions realising that previously he has only asked the wrong one. He writes, “Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”

Job’s God hangs around through all the agonising expression of Job’s grief. Job’s bitterness does not drive him away, not does Job’s anger. The silence of God is almost unbearable; but slowly becomes the way that God hears and responds. God’s silence is the silence of a grieving God who cannot answer the answerable questions but has to wait for the wounded soul to come to a new place. Suffering demonstrates the limitations of a God who has chosen to honour creation with its freedom and possibilities. There are no easy answers only the God who weeps and waits.

 

To Ponder

  • Where have you known grief and what helped you through it?
  • As you look back on that experience, what would you like to say to God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.