Rough seasons in my spiritual life are good. Sometimes a season is short and sometimes it seems like forever. I think I’ve been stuck in forever.
There has been some serious stripping away of things in my life, and I have not done the stripping. Quite honestly, I have felt exposed, naked, vulnerable. If I get really honest, I would also have to say I have felt betrayed, punished, unloved. While those around me prospered and said, “God blessed us,” I felt a kindred spirit to Job. Last week I was one step away from ripping my clothes and putting on sack cloth and covering myself with ashes.
The book of Job is often where I go when it feels like all is being stripped away. Time and time again, my faith had been restored when I read the end of the book…when Job actually heard God speak. Who can argue with God when He says, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”
Yesterday, God spoke to this wounded and war-torn heart. He came to me in the form of a friend of 25 years. I haven’t seen her in 10 years and yet she squeezed me hard and spoke Truth. And, if that were not enough, an hour later, her mom (my mentor) did the same. Two friends in a few hours who were used to cool this hot heart. I left their presence a different person.
I looked back at Job today. As soon as all was stripped away from Job’s life, three of his friends showed up. When they finally spoke to him, not a single one had anything worthwhile to say. In fact, it was so bad that God rebuked them and insisted that Job pray for them.
Thankfully, there was one more friend. Elihu. One friend out of four had something worthwhile to say. He spoke Truth to Job. He said, “Listen to this Job; stop and consider God’s wonders….The Almighty is beyond our reach and exhaled in power, in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, people revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise I heart?”
Many friends have come alongside me in this journey and all have had something to say. Most of it…not very helpful. Some a variation of their own understanding of Scripture, some their own personal experiences, and some just drivel. A few though…no more than a handful of dear people…have spoken Truth to my soul.
Today, this is my lesson. I want to be that kind of friend. I want to be Elihu to Job.