-Rev Melissa Fain-
2 Oh, that my grief were actually weighed,
all of it were lifted up in scales;
3 for now it’s heavier than the sands of the sea;
therefore, my words are rash.[a]
4 The Almighty’s arrows are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison,
and God’s terrors are arrayed against me.
5 Does a donkey bray over grass
or an ox bellow over its fodder?
6 Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
or does egg white have taste?
7 I refuse to touch them;
they resemble food for the sick.
Job 6:1-7 CEB
No! No. No. No.. Nono. I don't want to go here! Tell me I don't have to go!
I'll tell you what. You go ahead and I'll meet you at the next devotion.
Can't do that? Fine!
Every minister has that topic. You know, the one they clearly avoid at all costs. The one that when you ask it, their eyes grow wide for a millisecond and their face freezes. Apparently I'm really good at bringing up other minister's topics, because I've seen it. That petrified stare, as the cogs in their mind is whirling as their mouth is rusted shut.
This is mine.
I can discuss the previous uncomfortable topics because we have answers. Sure, many of those answer are far from easy, but we still have them and they are in our control. I can be angry over these issues, and ultimately understanding in the human failure of it all.
I understand why a person froze to death in the streets of Atlanta, or why a person died of starvation in the streets of Calcutta. It's our failure. Humans did that. I can have those discussions knowing we could do better.
Serious illness is where my ability to have these discussion fill me dread.
Job knows. We read how he wants to say what I dread most. He wants to say what we condemn when others say it.
God is guilty. God is the failure.
We are not supposed to be comfortable with that statement. It's supposed to gnaw us, and remind us that difficult questions without easy answers will always exist. More than that, God doesn't punish Job for wanting to ask those questions. Yet, neither does he give him the answers he seeks.
Jesus' talk about care of God's "least of these" has a solemn duty to those who are sick: "When I was sick or in prison, you visited me." It's important to stress, it doesn't say, "You cured me." Unless we are a doctor of that specific ailment, we are called to be present, a gift worth more than empty words, or impossible promises.
Job's friends were ultimately in the wrong. They couldn't be present with Job in his mourning, and it made the situation worse. They had to seek forgiveness at the end of the book, while Job (wanting to hold God accountable and all) gained a full life in return.
It sucks, because sometimes I just want to be like Job's friends. Sometimes I want to talk cures and solutions into being, when that kind of action is the very last thing we are called to do. Nothing is comfortable with illness- as it should be. We are called to be present and available. God is sick.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, teach us to stop saying things to make ourselves comfortable, and teach us to simply stop and be present. Amen.