Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
An open letter to the local congregation:
I sit in your pews just about every week.
I look pretty much like you. There isn’t anything about me that you would notice to be out of place in your church.
I open my service folder and my hymnal when told where to turn.
I appear to be saying the responses and singing the words to the songs, although you most likely don’t hear my voice among the others. That’s because I’m not really saying or singing out loud.
I’m just mouthing the words.
And that is the way I’m living my life.
Going through the motions.
Each morning I get up and out of bed. I breathe in and I breathe out. I get ready for work, I go to work, I come home.
On Sunday mornings, I come to your church. I remember going as a kid with my parents.
I used to take my kids and wife to church with me.
But they are gone now.
I sit in your pews alone. Going through the motions.
You see, my wife and children are dead. They died a couple of years ago.
But there’s no reason for you to know that. I never told you. I don’t wear a sign around my neck saying, “He’s terribly sad because his family is dead.”
Each week I sit in your pews, hear your pastor, sing your hymns, listen for your God.
Can God say something to me? Would I be able to understand what he says? Would I be able to accept it?
Can there be a reason for the death of my family? Or is this just some cosmic game? Or worse, a joke played on me?
I’m here just about every week.
Will someone please talk to me?
In Job 7 our “Everyman” is in the middle of a long soliloquy. He’s reacting to his so-called friend Eliphaz’s speech from Job 4-5.
He’s been speaking for quite a while, first in answer to Eliphaz but now, since verse 7, he is speaking directly to God.
Job has legitimate questions. Eliphaz has made the point that Job must have done something evil to warrant losing his wealth, children and health.
Job defends himself. He’s done nothing to deserve this. And he’s correct! He doesn’t know it, but even God said of Job, “…there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8).
Job is in despair. But Job does one thing that I would pray every despairing person would do – cry out to God!
God is always there to listen to his people! He desires to comfort all the hurting people.
In his Son, Jesus Christ, God has provided true life for all people. Even those – especially those – who are despairing, like the man who penned the open letter to the local church above.
The reason the Church exists is to help anyone and everyone who is hurting to come to God and receive the comfort they so desperately long for.
The Church is not in the position to give answers to the hurting. Just as Job never got an answer from God about why he lost his wealth, children, and health, the Church should never try to give reasons to the hurting for their hurting.
All the Church can do is simply listen to the hurting and love them. Let them cry out to God – whether in anger or in despair. Simply listen to them and love them.
And hold Jesus and his life-giving Gospel out to them.
And let the Holy Spirit do everything else!
©2017 True Men Ministries