Sunday, February 12, 2017

Encouragement from a Biblical Character’s Discouragement

Reading Job there’s encouragement, maybe never more so when we feel like Job. In chapter 3, for instance, Job is given to lament his existence, hating the fact of his birth.
Consider this sample:
“Why is light given to one burdened with grief,
and life to those whose existence is bitter?”
(v. 20)
This whole chapter Job appears practically suicidal. He reveals just how we all feel when we’re encamped in grief. Everyone in grief has surely experienced something of what Job 3:20 is talking about having woken from their sleep and wanting desperately to return to unconsciousness.
As we read His Word, especially in that Joban position, God ministers to us through His Spirit. We’re encouraged by someone else’s lament. Their discouragement is a source of our encouragement, and this is the way God heals us in community — through shared experience.
When we feel less isolated
we’re able to cope better with suffering.
When we read of another’s plight
we don’t feel so alone.
As we’re coupled to an empathic community, God’s mercy is felt as His comfort flows.
The Bible in our world is that community of God where many biblical characters are mentors. Some, and some stories, are there for our wisdom. To not go there. Not making the same mistakes.
The accounts we read in the Bible are so lifelike that nothing we could share of the life we live here and now could make it blush. Those who think the Bible is for happy-clappy Christians obviously haven’t read the Old Testament. And the truth of Jesus’ Passion is the stuff of a Restricted-rated movie. Many times Paul despaired.
When we open our Bibles to 2 Corinthians it helps us most when we’re undergoing a trial.
God’s Word ministers truth into our souls through the vestibule of grace. The truth we need at the time is acquired through a search, and it meets us through His grace.
This is why the Bible is so important, especially in a world where post-truth and post-fact are real concepts. The Bible is a book of truth.
God’s Word can encourage us most when we read of a biblical character’s discouragement.
When we find ourselves in the narrative, we’re instantly touched and heartened.

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