The Power of the Tongue
Generous God, I do not ask to be dazzled, but rather I ask for courage to be faithful to You.
Consider: "Do not pray for an easy life, pray to be a stronger person. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, but for power equal to your tasks" (Bishop Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893).
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." I first picked up that saying at elementary school, but it was not long before my naïve belief was shattered! Words can indeed hurt us; they can wound us beyond telling. As Job responds to yet another of Bildad's increasingly angry speeches, he claims that his friend's words are tormenting and crushing him (2-3). He then catalogues what he sees as God's wrongs to him (7-20), including the relationship breakdowns resulting from Job's affliction (13-20)--almost certainly more painful than the physical symptoms of his disease. Like a child in need he turns to his friends, begging for their compassion (21-22).
However, despite Job's agony of spirit, he retains hope: a kinsman-redeemer will come to his defense. This refers to an ancient Israelite custom by which the nearest of kin guaranteed the security rights of a fellow kinsman (Lev. 25:25; Ruth 2:19--3:13). It also reflected God's redemptive role in Israel's deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Exod. 15:13). Job is sure that, since his friends have failed him, God himself, as his kinsman-redeemer, "will stand" (25)--a technical term for standing up in court to give decisive testimony. Thus we see the paradox at the core of Job's struggle: the God in whom he has faith will help him against the God who is punishing him. The text of verse 26 is obscure but, as elsewhere, Job finds no support for future resurrection (Job 14:7-12; 17:15-16). The text probably refers to the destruction of his skin through his illness. "From his weak, emaciated body he will see God's appearing to vindicate him" before he dies (John E. Hartley).
God himself identified with human suffering on the cross; Jesus is humanity's kinsman-redeemer. We know what Job did not know: that suffering is not the end of the story. Meanwhile, in this life may our words demonstrate compassion!
Separation from a loved one brings a sharp pain (13-20). When have you been a parent in pain? A spouse in pain? A child in pain? How have you dealt with these issues?
Lord, I am surrounded by a cacophony of demanding voices: selling, recruiting, seducing, coercing. In the midst of all this, may my conversation be seasoned by grace and peace.
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