Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 7th June
From the Pastor: Words to the Anguished
"A word was brought to me stealthily ... Can mankind be just before God?" Job 4:12,17|
We have all heard sick jokes along the line, and we discern the pattern:
the long build-up, the elaborate and flowery language, then the punch
line, usually a cheap pun, but always an anti-climax, a let-down.
Sometimes efforts to console the sad and suffering can have the effect
of a sick joke. The "Job's comforters" move in and give such people
their simple answers, either from the pulpit, or from the armchair:
"These things are sent to try us", or "Cheer up! Things could be much
worse!" Perhaps so, but all too often these adages are mere truisms:
platitudes which are no help at all, even counterproductive. At times
the best that one can say is nothing at all - just be there.
Job's theological counsellors sat still and silent for a week (Job 2:13),
then they began to share their wisdom. It had all the earmarks of a
sick joke: the long flowery build-up, the tantalizing wait for the great
revelation from a learned theologian, the excitement as the moment of
truth arrives, only to be told - that no-one is righteous before God!
(Job 4:12-17). In Paul's argument in Romans 1-3 this is a profound
conclusion; but here it is nothing more than an irrelevant truism.
When our friends or neighbours are in anguish they do indeed cry out
for answers, but I suspect that what they really want is a comforting
presence, a loving touch, a helping hand, a sacrificial willingness
to be on hand, and above all, a prayerful concern (James 5:12).
Ultimate answers we cannot offer, but would they be any use in the end?
Let us resolve to bear the burdens of those around us in a practical
way and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galations 6:2).