For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. -2 Corinthians 4:17
How can one of the Bible's longest books, an extensive look at suffering, be a comforting, reassuring and (dare I say it?) joyous read?
Having read the book of Job perhaps four or five times, I can honestly say that I look forward to re-reading it each time it comes up in the rotation (to use baseball vernacular).
How blessed are we at Grace Pres that Brother Billy has begun to preach through this book of Old Testament wisdom literature.
In my personal reading I have been impressed more deeply each time with the desperation of Job's struggle to maintain his faith in the midst of unbelievable and inexplicable suffering.
"You don't know what it's like," is a phrase I have heard uttered more than once at various times by various people.
Still we attempt to offer comfort and like Job's friends, somrtimes the best thing to do is to sit silently with the sufferer. As one of the recent Wednesday night sermons has highlighted, it is when we open our mouths to speak, that we get into trouble.
To paraphrase Mark Twain; it is better to be thought a pompous unsympathetic ass than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
So, following Job's lead, I put my hand over my mouth (40:4) and hope for forgiveness.
This has been the blessing of Brother Billy's preaching. He has delved into the deeper things. Using John Calvin's sermons on Job as a reference, he has helped us focus on the other issues related to suffering. Things which I certainly might not have noticed, studying on my own.
Certainly Calvin himself was no stranger to personal tragedy which makes one of his insights on the subject all the more striking. Could it be, he asks, that in the midst of pain we should remember that these things are fleeting?
We might also remember, suggests Calvin, that what for us is light and momentary is the unbeliever's eternal fate.
What a thought to take me out of myself no matter what degree of suffering I might undergo.
It calls me to gratitude toward a Heavenly Father who has only my good at heart.
It reminds me that there are those who suffer much more than I and I am to help them bear their burden humbly and lovingly.
Most of all it compels me to pray without ceasing for those who are bound to an eternity of suffering if God does not turn and have mercy upon them.