How Much Is Enough?

“When they looked from a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe, and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights, with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
Job 2:12-13 (NASB)

“Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.”
Job 3:1 (NASB)

All of us have heard of the patience of Job. But it seems that few of us have heard of Job’s limits of endurance in his suffering. At the end of Job 2 it is clear that Job’s suffering is dramatic. When his friends (comforters?) saw him, they did not initially recognize him as his physical suffering had so disfigured him. Also, his physical pain was very obvious to them.

After the visiting men spent a week in silence, it was Job who spoke first. Job’s comforters were wise to begin their visit in silence. When first visiting someone who is in serious pain, say very little. Allow your presence to speak for you. Many hours I have spent in hospitals silently holding the hands of people in serious pain. Even my quotations of scripture and prayers in those situations were very brief.

Job 3 is where Job’s great lament begins. He confesses ignorance of why he had to suffer. As we read further in the book of Job we read of his confusion over his suffering. He knew he had not committed some grievous sin. He had used some of his great wealth to alleviate the suffering of the poor. He was bewildered and may have wondered, “How much is enough?”.

Perhaps you know someone in Job’s situation. Or maybe it is you asking. Asking the Lord questions is not sin unless the wrong tone of voice is used. We certainly do not blame Job for posing the questions he did.

Sadly, from the human point of view, Job’s questions went unanswered. Does God remain silent out of indifference? Does He have a heart of stone? Is His heart not moved at the sight of our suffering? The greatest evidence of God’s love is seen at Golgotha, just outside of Jerusalem. There a man was nailed to a cross by cruel hands. Those cruel hands had beaten the Man to a pulp. He no longer looked human such was His disfigurement (Isaiah 52:14). We must always remember that the sovereign hands that rule the universe bear the scars of love.

The more we read of our Beloved Master’s suffering, the more we find ourselves accepting our own suffering. We may find the tuition fees very high in the school of suffering but, ultimately, we will learn to say that the lessons learned there were worth the cost.

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.” 

― Robert Browning Hamilton

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