Job 16 and 17 – Falling Into the Deepness of the Well
I was in peace, but he dislodged me; my spirit is broken, my lamp of life extinguished. Job is describing the way we feel when we know that we have fallen down a deep, dark well. Shall we go down together into the dust?
Please read these two chapters any time you think that the world has caved in on you and left you with no exit. Job’s reply to his friends who speak platitudes is remarkable for its stark sincerity and its keen truth. I wonder how many of us have wearisome comforters. I wonder how many times I been a wearisome friend. I must have spoken windy words. I am hoping that I faced my traducer openly. I know that I have often been exhausted and stunned, feeling that everyone and everything have closed in. I hope I responded well.
What Job does with great devotion – and what I hope to imitate – is to allow himself to tumble down into the darkness without scrabbling at the stones that line the well. He fully understands that God is omnipotent.
All things are possible and God is able to catch us before we sink into the watery depths of the well. Christ loves us even without our asking. The Spirit dwells within.
What Job knows with deep fidelity – and what I hope to imitate – is that there is no need to flail against the air through which he plummets. He fully comprehends that God is omniscient.
God is everywhere, sees all and knows all. He will catch us before the dark and greedy water envelops us. Christ rescues us even without our asking. The Spirit abides forever.
What Job expresses with trust – and what I hope to imitate – is his unswerving faith that God will catch him before he reaches the water below. He fully believes that God is trustworthy, compassionate and loving. And he acts on this belief.
If all of this describes how you have felt at one time, turn to God’s reply to Job’s final plaint beginning in Chapter 38. When we look at the answer to all of the questions Job poses beginning at verse 4 we see that God himself replies with a series of significant questions. They begin with the essential: Where were you . . .?
In this timeless narrative, the innocent Job demonstrates the proper stance to take when brought down by those who would be our friends. He does not reply in anger or bitterness. He does not sink into self-pity. Rather, Job is the model of fidelity and perseverance. He falls backward into the bottomless well and does not scrabble at the sides. He drifts downward in darkness knowing that the Lord rescues and redeems the faithful. He drops into the blackness that threatens to extinguish him and he puts his eternal life into the hands of the force that created him.
Job is well rewarded for his patience, obedience and piety; he is restored to a state far better than his original one. But in his journey, Job does not thrash against events as he travels down into the deepness of the well of life. Instead, he closes his eyes and crosses his arms against his chest to tumble into the waiting arms of God.
May we always remember this lesson that we learn from Job that when we are trampled by life and we find ourselves falling backward down into the bottomless well. We need not scramble to save ourselves. We need only reach out to the one who has created us . . . knowing that we will be folded into the ample arms of our loving and saving God.
Also see the post on this blog for November 20, 2011, “The Shining in the Dusk”