My typical Sunday morning, as you know, consists of listening to a handful of preachers, starting with Ed Bousman on WLW, and then Bible reading and a walk with Scrappy to digest the lessons. Today, I fought mightily to stay awake for Ed, read my Bible, and fell back to sleep, waking up in the middle of David Jeremiah discussing the failures of Job's counsellors ( not JOB counsellors, which is all google can comprehend) and the application to us.
If you never actually ready the story of Job, I'll nutshell it here.Job was a very righteous, and very rich, man. Not only did he make atonement for the sins he wasn't committing, but for the sins he really didn't know if his many sons and daughters were committing. Satan complains to God that Job is so faithful because God has never tested him. To test this, God gives Satan permission, and soon, his kids have all died in disasters, his wealth has all been stolen, and he is covered in painful boils. Not to mention his "loving" wife, whose solution to Job's plight is that he should "curse God and die". Job, in silence, contemplates his fate in sackcloth and ashes, scraping at the boils.
Along comes three of his buddies, wise old men like himself. In the wisest thing that they managed to do (says Jeremiah), they sat there in silence with him for one week. Then, one by one, they began to tell him that he brought this on himself by some terrible, unconfessed sin. The only sin he actually commits is when he defends himself, saying he did nothing wrong, and thus God is picking on him.
The whole thing is a lesson on A) that bad things happen to good people and B) how not to counsel someone in pain. Among Jeremiah's points were: 1. while suffering exists on this world because of sin, that doesn't mean that any particular suffering is because of any particular sin. Job's buddies begged him to confess to some heinous crime, and were sure to let him know that against a Righteous God, he probably still wasn't getting what he deserved. 2. That everyone's suffering is unique. How many times do we tell someone in pain, "I understand," even when we don't, just because we can't think of anything else to say? 3.That God has a plan that might not be apparent in the suffering. The fourth counsellor, Elihu, makes this point later on.
I bring this up because during the last week or so, many of the bloggers I follow talked about some pain that they are in- and I kept basically silent because I didn't know what to say. You can only say, "I'll pray for you" so many times without sounding, "yeah, sure." And some of these people have only a casual belief in God, and that means nothing much to them. Just throwing "I'll pray for you" out there casually robs the sufferer of the most powerful help you can be to them. Rest assured, I am praying. It is not a platitude to me. But sometimes, there's just nothing else to add to that. This week, I've been particularly frustrated over this.
I've lived a fairly blessed life, when you consider the things people are going through that I can't possibly say, "I understand," to. But it doesn't mean I don't understand THAT you're suffering. It doesn't mean I don't beseech God for solutions, healing, or comfort for you. Or to give you that hug I would if I were there (and you wouldn't slap a stranger for doing so). I have a feeling that I'm not alone in this. So, if I'm not among the people sending "bloggy hugs" or repeating the prayer promises and commiserating, I'm probably here, silently sitting in the ashes with you.
In the meantime, I've been wanting to share with you all the laziest scam e-mailer I've ever hit on. Just to bring the mood up, here he is:
The management of central Bank has decided to pay your outstanding
payment of 10m USD, to our beneficiaries VIA MASTER CARD PAYMENT,kindly Re-
comfirm to me your INFO.Dr.Smith Ego
Mind you, it's not bad enough that they don't even come up with a good story; they can't tell us whether the "central bank" is in London, Benin, Lagos, or Libya, they can't end the letter with a "sincerely" (even Interpol says God bless you, remember), or even come up with the name of a supposed relative who died or rival trying to beat me to the account. No, this guy can't even get the entire word "ma'am" out! I'm so glad I get these little rays of sunshine- I don't know what I'd do without the stupidest people still capable to work a keyboard to make me laugh!