“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 7:11 (NIV)
The raw humanity of Job is revealed in Job 7. Up until now we’ve seen Job esteemed as a man of great faith and integrity, but his words here seem contrary to what we would expect from a person of such strong character. Job’s words aren’t stoic or strengthening. Instead, he is brutally honest about the seeming futility of his life.
He can’t eat. He can’t sleep. He is discouraged and feels like a weary worker who never receives any pay. His days, though filled with relentless toiling, end empty with no sense of achievement. His pain – both physical and emotional – is so intense that insomnia and reoccurring nightmares plague his tattered soul.
Job can’t find comfort or relief … he is losing hope … he is struggling … his strength is deficient … he feels forsaken … and his very existence seems loathsome. It’s as if Job has been given a one-way ticket headed nowhere. And all the long nights of misery and all the physical, relational and emotional torment has taken its toll and left him confused.
Job knows God is the ultimate authority over all. He knows God sees him, watches over him and is totally mindful of his intense suffering. Job also knows God has the authority to stop it at any time. And Job repeatedly pleads with God to intercede and do something even if it means death, because death would be a welcomed change. (Job 6:8-10; Job 7:15; Job 7:20-21)
Job isn’t blaming or condemning God. He is surrendered to Him. But Job doesn’t understand why God has made him the target of such suffering.
Have you ever wrestled with why questions like these: Why so much pain and heartache? Why doesn’t God intervene and do something? Why me? What is all this suffering accomplishing? Will this deep ache in my soul ever end? Apparently, Job wrestled with many why questions, too.
So what is impressive about Job?
Job doesn’t try to appear strong or brave or gloss over his pain by replying, “I’m fine,” like so many, myself included, are prone to do. Nor does he attempt to be some spiritual giant by suffering stoically in silence. He speaks up. He cries out. He owns and confesses his intense thoughts and emotions.
Job is transparent and truthful. In response to his pain, he openly pours his heart out before God and reveals his anguish in very vivid terms. Job knows how to lament. He is not afraid to grapple with his pain and articulate his suffering by putting it into words — words a desperately hurting world can relate to.
When we are struggling and battling deep in the depths of our souls, Job’s words give us a language of lament. Job helps us see it’s okay to be truthful and vulnerable about our pain before God. It takes humility to be this completely honest about our struggles, but when we are, we can be assured God will respond to our searching cries. (Psalm 34:4; Matthew 7:7-8; Jeremiah 29:13)
Living authentically has unimaginable power. When we wrestle with the perplexities of life … openly and honestly before God … it places us in the position to be amazed by God. I’m constantly amazed when He responds to my heart’s cry in a real way. Moments when He brings clarity, wisdom or understanding in the midst of our confusion or difficulty. Moments when the light bulb will click on in our hearts or His Word leaps off the page and speaks right to our struggle. Moments when we glimpse His glory in some tiny detail — and we will know it’s from Him because we have shared the details of our struggle intimately with Him.
It’s in those moments when we will have our faith strengthened and experience the sweetest assurance of His tender care for us. When we put our pain into words and learn to genuinely express our hearts to God, He points us step by step down the path toward discovering truth. Truth about God and His character. Truth about ourselves. Truth about His unfailing Word and His grand plan.
Are you in the middle of a soul-crushing season that has your heart reeling with pain? Why not begin honestly expressing your heart to God today?
Prayer: Lord God, You alone have the power to heal our wounded souls. You are sovereign over every situation and You see every single heart that is hurting. Lord, You are the watcher of mankind and nothing and no one escapes Your notice. Help us rely on You in our misery. May our affliction move us to the holy activity of pouring out our pain to You. Teach us the beauty of the language of lament and give us the courage to be honest in Your presence and pray bold prayers. In Jesus’ name, amen.