Sitting Shiva

jobs-friendsThere is a Jewish custom called “Sitting Shiva” where close friends and family go to the person who has had a great loss and sit silently with him, empathizing. They do not speak, but listen.

Joe Bayly, who lost three children, wrote:

I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealing, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. I wished he’d go away, and he finally did.

Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour — or more. He listened when I said something. He listened. He answered briefly. He prayed briefly and then he went away. I hated to see him go.

1. Read Job 2:11-13. Describe what the friends did.

2.Read Job 3

A. Up until now, Job has been amazingly positive and trusting. Now, “after this,” we see him truly lamenting. Why this release, do you think?

B. What phrases of lament stand out to you?

3. Read Job 4:1-8

A. What do you think Eliphaz was doing during those seven days of silence, based on this speech? Preparing his arguments — or did he really empathize?

B. What is the error in this speech?

C. How would this increase Job’s pain?

4. What did friends do for you that was particularly comforting?

5. What have you learned, after you pain, about what not to do with others?

6. Anyone who wants to research “sitting shiva” would be encouraged to do so and share their best gleanings!

COMMENTS (52) Post a New Comment ↓

Hi, Dee, thanks for making these studies….It’s been years since I’ve read Job, because I disliked it so. The thing that stuck out to me now as I reread was how much his friends apparently cared for him.

When they heard about his calamities they put their lives on hold to be with him and then “When they saw him from a distance, [and] could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.”

And then they just sat with him for 7 days. Wow.

They may have said a lot of wrong things and way too many words, but they really cared.

Never noticed that before.

Gloris

    Gloris — thanks so much. I’m so glad you are with us.

    They certainly seemed to care. And perhaps they did. The interesting thing is that it seemed to release a true lament from Job — and then they really didn’t like that.

    I’m more cynical than you are, and I found myself wondering if they were preparing their arguments against him while they “sat shiva.”

    I think this will be an interesting discussion — thanks for starting it!

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#1. Read Job 2:11-13. Describe what the friends did.

When Job’s three friends learned of what had happened to Job, they got together and came to sympathize with him and comfort him. They are so moved, to tears, when they see him from a distance and he looks so bad they don’t recognize him. They give an outward sign of their grief and distress: tearing their clothing and throwing the dust.
Then they sit on the ground with him for 7 days and 7 nights. They sit silently, the text states, because they see how great his pain is.

I like the New Living Translation of verse 13:

“No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.”

I do like that at this point, they don’t try to offer any explanations. Our pastor gave a good sermon on this once in church. He had lost his sister when she was 14, and he related how at the calling hours, one woman said to his mother that perhaps God took her so she wouldn’t grow up to be a prostitute. Our pastor was, I think 17 at the time, and he told that lady to please move on. How awful to try to explain the death of a young person in terms of perhaps they were “saved” from growing up to do something sinful!

When grief is raw and fresh, there are truly no words for it. A Christian already knows the theological reasons such as “because of the Fall, sin and death entered the world…”; we know heaven is a better place than this earth… but that’s not what you want to hear when someone you love dies. It hurts, and you just want someone to be there. Our pastor said you shouldn’t try to explain or offer reasons why or say you know why this happened. Just listen. Just say I’m so sorry. Pray for them.

The day my nephew died, that unending day and night when the clock seemed to literally crawl, my mom kept suggesting to me that I spend the night at their house ( my mom and dad’s home). My husband was at home with our kids, and I had this feeling that she really wanted me to stay there with them. So I did. At about 3 AM, I heard my dad up, and he must’ve seen the light under my door on, so he came and we went back to their room and just cried together, and then my mom said to me, why don’t you come and get into bed with us. And it seemed strange, I mean I’m 45 years old, but I think that is what she needed, so I got into bed next to her, and she next to my dad, and there we spent the rest of that long night. I’m so glad I stayed, and now I have that precious memory.

There were no words to make anything better, just the comfort of being together.

    That’s precious, Susan. Brought tears to my eyes.

    Susan — I love this story. It is a vivid example of simply sitting with someone in their pain. My girls and I slept together the first few nights after Steve’s death. We had to!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    Your pastor seems like a very good “shepherd;” all the more because of the pain of losing his sister!

    2 Corintians 1:3-4 comes to mind, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

    And your memory about staying with your parents while you were all grieving is so precious. I feel honored that you’ve shared it! Thank you!

Dee, you asked what the error was in Eliphaz’ speech. Was it :7? “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?”

Lots of bad things happen to good people. Isn’t there a book by that title, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”?

    Yes, there is a book like that by a Rabbi, Gloriadelia. Rabbi Kushner says we have to “forgive God for losing control!” Isn’t that amazing.

    The book of Job is certainly an answer to that erroneous thinking. God never lost control — only giving Satan enough rope to hang himself — but bad things certainly happened to a relatively good man.

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1. I was curious about the 7 days of mourning, tearing their clothes, and throwing dust on their heads. I didn’t get as thorough an answer to my curiosity as I would have liked, but I did find some interesting information on a couple of Jewish websites. Here’s a document from one of them: http://www.karaitejudaism.org/talks/Mourning%20_in_the_Tanakh_Part_2.pdf

I did read someplace that “minor grief” could be expressed by words, but there were no words for the huge losses experienced by Job.

2.A. We know that Job was a righteous man. At first, he either had no words to express his grief or is patiently waiting and trusting. Here’s my guess for why he “let loose” (but I may be projecting my attitudes on to him): When he first experienced his losses, he may have been in shock — which would have prevented him from experiencing the full brunt of the pain. In addition, the mourning rituals of the time gave him a “protocol” to follow — and that protocol took some of his attention because he had a process to follow, i.e., something to “do.” Further, I’ve experienced (even as an adolescent) that immediately after someone dies we “do what we need to do” — make the phone calls, the funeral & burial arrangements, hang out at the funeral home, etc. During that time of numbly walking through the process, it seems like it is easier to trust God and believe that everything will be okay. But when the pain hit Job (or us) and CONTINUED full force — with no end in sight (and it felt as though life would be miserable forever), Job wanted answers.

B. The phrases that stand out to me are about Job’s wishing he had never been born and longing for death that didn’t come, where they was rest for the weary and rejoicing in the grave. Death seems like a good escape when someone is in so much pain. I also was struck by the words “dark” and “darkness.”

Job 3:23 “Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” This gives me the picture of someone who feels trapped in his pain and sees no “light at the end of the tunnel.”

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When I read these questions I just felt led to answer them all. I hope that’s OK!

1. Read Job 2:11-13. Describe what the friends did.

Job’s friends had agreed to sympathize and
comfort him. They sat silently for seven days
because they saw Job’s sufferings as too great
to speak. They were deeply saddened at the
sight of Job as they barely recognized him.

2.Read Job 3

A. Up until now, Job has been amazingly
positive and trusting. Now, “after this,” we
see him truly lamenting. Why this release, do
you think?

Perhaps the magnitude of his losses had
overhwelmed Job. Maybe for the first few
days he was still in a state of shock and didn’t
feel as if what was going on was real but now
after seven days he knows with an even
heavier heart that those he lost are not
coming back. While Job was upright in heart,
he did have human emotions that could get
overwhelming at times, just as we do.

B. What phrases of lament stand out to you?

The phrases of lament where Job states that
stillborn children, captives and slaves find rest
in death. This shows how very deeply
distressed Job is feeling at this point in time.

3. Read Job 4:1-8

A. What do you think Eliphaz was doing during
those seven days of silence, based on this
speech? Preparing his arguments — or did he
really empathize?

I feel that Eliphaz was preparing his
arguments instead of empathizing or else he
would not have been so quick to accuse Job of sinning.

B. What is the error in this speech?

The error in the speech is making
assumptions as to how Job should react by
relying on his faith (verse six in particular)
instead of empathizing with his true feelings.

C. How would this increase Job’s pain?

I’m sure Job didn’t feel as if he was understood, and that’s all we want sometimes when in pain.

As I read Eliphaz’s words it strikes me that he
is speaking from his mind and not his heart…
reason doesn’t always apply when one is
hurting.

4. What did friends do for you that was particularly comforting?

They’ve accepted me where I am, not pressing me to feel or be something I’m not ready to feel or become. They allow me to
open up when I am ready and reserve judgment. This definitely describes all of you in this study, as well as other people in my
life.

5. What have you learned, after you pain, about what not to do with others?

Say nothing if it is better than just another cliche. Never push them to say more than they want to say, and don’t force my
expectations upon them. Do not use only head knowledge.

6. Anyone who wants to research “sitting shiva” would be encouraged to do so and share their best gleanings!

I found the following information at this site:http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-sitting-shiva-mean.htm

“The practice of sitting shiva makes a great deal of sense from a grief perspective. Loss of someone that is a direct relative is often produces great grief, where even if you tried you could get very little done. To honor this, direct-family mourners do not try to get anything done. They do not bathe, work, engage in pleasurable activities, or try to distract themselves with anything. Focus is on feeling the pain and grief of losing someone.

When the mourner wants she will also discuss the pain this with people paying shiva visits.

The process is meant to properly, fully, and gradually come to grips with the great transition of the soul when the loved one dies.

A few practices are traditionally observed during the shiva week. These include not wearing leather shoes in the home, not leaving the home, and possibly sitting on low benches or chairs that are close to the ground. Other family members and friends who are not direct relatives bring the first meal that is eaten during shiva. In fact, there is an emphasis on foods that are round or oval in shape because these are representative of the circular nature of life. People who are sitting shiva may also wear clothing or
ribbons that are torn to represent the deepest sadness.

Though people sitting shiva do not usually leave their homes, friends and other relatives come to the home to visit and to help
grievers. The goal is to give comfort to the bereaved, to listen to those grieving, and to share stories of the deceased if appropriate.

Sometimes paying a shiva call doesn’t mean saying much of anything; one doesn’t talk just for the sake of it. Sitting in silence with someone may be more or as comforting as actually saying things that aren’t helpful. Not all Jews sit shiva, though many sects of Judaism observe and encourage the practice.

Some have modified the practice to three instead of seven days of mourning, though this is frowned upon within traditional Judaism. Both within and outside of Judaism, sitting shiva is thought of as a particularly beneficial practice since focus remains on grief. In modern society, people often engage in activities to distract from feeling grief after losing someone close. Observing a seven-day period where most of what you do is focus on your loss and recognize how deeply this loss is felt may be extraordinarily helpful.”

I think this tradition is beautiful and meaningful because it truly seeks to meet the needs of the mourner. Like the last paragraph states, the tradition of sitting shiva is very different from distracting activities that push grief away. As horrible as feelings like this are, it doesn’t help to shove them deep down.

    Good work, Tracy. You’ve enriched this study so!

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Hmmm. . . I hadn’t read all the questions, and then I saw Tracy’s answers. Thanks, Tracy! Your answers made me want to start up again :) (out of order).

5. What not to do (I admit that I became a little too entertained remembering things that once were painful). I probably would have made a longer list, but I think I’ve already exceeded my healthy or wise limit!

Don’t say: “Snap out of it.”
Don’t say: “Smile”
Don’t say: “I know exactly how you feel.”
Don’t say: “Be strong.”
Don’t say you will pray for them if you’re not going to do it (or just because you have nothing else to say).
Don’t tell them that whatever happened was God’s plan.
Don’t tell a child/adolescent to take care of his/her parent.
Don’t expect them to throw a party/entertain after a funeral. (I swiped that one from shiva info – when I realized that the situation has “fit”)
Don’t “unload” Bible verses before a person is ready (or even able) to read.
Don’t tell them that what happened must’ve been because of their sin — or if they’d just repent (or fill in the spiritual blank), the problem would go away..
Don’t make LONG visits to a hospital when a patient is in great pain (or expect a patient to entertain visitors)
Don’t take things too personally if your friend or loved one seems irritable.
Don’t be afraid of tears — or of no tears.
Don’t avoid the person because you don’t know what to say or do.

    Reply

    Great list! I would add:
    Don’t try to explore WHY this happened at all. Even if the person in pain is asking, “Why, why why?” No explanation is good enough when the pain is raw.

I think it is SO IMPORTANT we see the error of Eliphaz here. Can you imagine how he would have responded if these things had happened to him? Because he seems to embrace the “older brother” (from the Prodigal Son story) mentality (religious morality rather than true relationship)I believe he would have been very angry with God, assuming that because he had kept the rules, he should have not suffered.

Though it is true that we reap what we sow, it is so unmerciful for him to simply assume this was the right application for Job. We can also suffer because God has a plan we cannot see, which was the case with Job.

That’s why I love Renee’s “don’t say” answers and Tracy’s answers to question 3.

We simply have to get this. Otherwise we become like Eliphaz, the Pharisees, and all the people who rub salt in wounds.

Am eager to hear more of your thoughts.

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#1: Job’s friends made it a point to get together and travel to offer their support. When they saw from “afar” how terrible his suffering was, they wept out loud & tore their robes. I will weigh in with Gloris and say I think they had good intentions. Matthew Henry points out that they didn’t turn tail and run when they saw him in such bad shape, but sat down on the ground beside him to show their support. M. Henry also says, “and yet proved miserable comforters, through their unskillful management of his case. Many that aim well do, by mistake, come short of their aim.” I just love how he puts things!

Here’s a link to his online commentary if you’re interested:

http://bible.wiktel.com/mhc/index.html

    “through their unskillful management of his case.” I LOVE THAT. Laughed out loud! Thanks for the link, Marlys.

    Gloris

    Marlys, On Blueletter Bible (http://www.blueletterbible.org) you can read a verse, or passage from scripture(in any version you want) and click on a list of commentaries to the left that includes Matthew Henry.

    For Job it also lists audio commentary by J. Vernon Mcgee (whom I love. He’s so adorable sounding with his Andy Griffith accent) and other commentators I don’t recognize.

    And whatever verse your looking at there’s buttons to the left to click for the original Greek and Hebrew, dictionary aids, applicable devotionals, and applicable hymns.

    I use Blueletter for all my Bible references on Gloriadelia (a blog of short everyday devotions)

    (www.gloriadelia.wordpress.com) Gloris

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When my second son was 13, he got into drugs and alcohol. He was in drug treatment when he turned 16. I spent countless hours on my knees pleading with God to break his rebellious heart! He got married at 18, and continued to do drugs off & on with his wife. He was either all about God and church or all about drugs. No middle ground with him ever. When they would decide to straighten their lives out, they would come to us, we would take them in, they would start using again and we would have to ask them to leave.
The last time we asked them to leave, I felt God was telling me to tell my son this was the last time. No more coming to stay with us to start over. He felt totally rejected. We didn’t hear from them for about 18 months (a very painful, long 18 months)! During this time, I prayed that God would do “WHATEVER IT TAKES” to bring my son to complete surrender once and for all.
On December 21, 1991 he stabbed and killed one of his drug “friends.” By the grace of Almighty God, I only “lost it” for the first few minutes after I got the news. Then I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit whisper, “You said ‘whatever it takes’ right?” I felt a calmness wash over me that defies explanation! God also fortified me with the strength and confidence to look the Eliphaz-types in the eye and say, “God is in control here!”
The people who were the most comforting were the ones who just let me know they were available and praying.
The people who were the least comforting were the ones who tried to explore reasons why, or find someone to blame, or point out the obvious (like Satan’s work in my son’s life).
I’ve come to appreciate the fact that God has given me this pain in my heart that never goes away. It enables me to push in next to someone who is experiencing something unthinkable. It gives me credibility with people. When I say, “I KNOW God is with you in this,” they believe me! What a blessing!

    Reply

    Marlys…that is a powerful testimony. It astonds me,(forgive me Lord) how the Lord ministered to you in the midst of that horrific circumtance. Your comment..”I’ve come to appreciate the fact that God has given me this pain in my heart that never goes away. It enables me to push in next to someone who is experiencing something unthinkable. It gives me credibility with people. When I say, “I KNOW God is with you in this,” they believe me! What a blessing!”
    Our God is amazing…Amazing Love, how can it be?,,,
    Thank you for sharing. How is your son, may I ask?

      Reply

      Yes, God is amazing! My son spent 15 years in prison. God was gracious and allowed him to be in the first class in our state ever to go through Prison Fellowship’s “Innerchange Freedom Initiative.” He served the Lord in a big way in prison. I can’t tell you how many men had contacted me to tell me what a blessing my son was to them.

      He’s been out of prison, now, for a year and a half. He has chosen to put God on the “back burner” of his life. He learned computer programming in prison. God has blessed him with an excellent job. He’s married, has 2 step children, and just bought a house. I guess you could say he’s “living the American Dream.”

      This last year and a half has been an intense struggle for me! I didn’t expect him to get out of prison and so quickly become a lukewarm Christian! It breaks my heart! And more than that, it breaks my grandson’s heart. He was born while his dad was in prison, and has lived with me his entire life. He only knew his dad as an extremely on-fire Christian. He was 15 when he experienced the devastation of his dad’s long-awaited release only to have him put God and his family “on hold.”

      I cling to Philippians 4:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

        Oh, Marlys! Crying as I type.

        Gloris

        Thank you, Marlys…Lord, You are able to bring Your work to completion…trusting You.

    Reply

    Oh, wow, Marlys. I read your posting earlier and couldn’t even respond — Your testimony is amazing. I still don’t know what to write, except that what you wrote moved me very much. What is going through my mind is that I would be very comfortable being around you. This is coming from Ms. Don’t-Trust-or-you’ll-get-hurt.

      Reply

      Dear precious Renee! You don’t have to know what to write! That’s the thing…there’s nothing anyone can say except, “I’m sorry,” and “I’m praying.”

      It honors me that you would be comfortable around me! I would hope God would give me the grace to help you change your name to Ms. There’s-a-Few-Godly-People-I-Can-Trust!

      Actually, we can’t EVER trust people, because only God is trustworthy. People will always let you down, but God never, ever, ever will. I’m praying for you.

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These questions have been well answered and I’m sorry if I repeat something someone else has said. I do that all the time. I forget that I heard stuff somewhere before and think I just thought it up…

2b The last 2 verses stand out to me when Job says that what he fears has happened to him. Fear of something makes it so much worse if it actually happens. He says he cannot relax or be still. He cannot rest. I wonder if he is not also missing the presence of God as Jesus did on the cross. Whether or not God was as close to him as He had always been, from Job’s perspective he had to feel abandoned.

3a During the 7 days of silence Eliphaz may have been wondering how in the world these things could happen to someone. He seemed to have many ideas about God and justice but I don’t think he had much understanding about Satan. He may have been sympathetic but I don’t think he was empathetic. I don’t think he thought anything like that could happen to him because he was so good. As Dee says he would have been angry. What a precious man Job was.

3b The error in Eliphaz’s speech is that he insisted that God was causing these things to happen to Job because he had sinned.

3c This adds to Job’s pain because it implies that he was being punished which could not have been farther from the truth. It denied God’s love for Job.

    Reply

    I like your statement about Eliphaz being “sympathetic” but not “empathetic.” That’s a valid distinction here, I think. And I also agree that he was lacking understanding of Satan AND God. Assuming that someone’s sin has brought them to the horrible position Job was in is just flat wrong & unbiblical. Eliphaz DID NOT understand the character of God! And he DID NOT understand God’s view of suffering!

    Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    In my own life, when I finally let God pry MY idea of Him out of my hand, and accept that there were things about God I don’t understand, the sooner I had peace…real peace.

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3. Read Job 4:1-8. A. What do you think Eliphaz was doing during those seven days of silence, based on this speech? Preparing his arguments — or did he really empathize?

Okay, I’m going to stick up for Eliphaz (for a sentence or two anyway). He may have started off empathizing. But 7 days is a long time to sit in silence, especially for someone is used to pontificating (and listening to others do the same). If he didn’t care somewhat, he probably wouldn’t have given up 7 days to sit there. And he did point out that Job had encouraged people in the past. My hunch is that he started out with good intentions during those 7 days but tried too hard to “figure things out.” Then he started making unhelpful statements and asking unhelpful questions — and, as Marlys pointed out, trying to figure out “why” (especially out loud) does not help someone in pain.

B. What is the error in this speech?

I was kinda clueless and couldn’t understand this passage very well — so I switched to “The Message” (which I rarely ever use). In The Message, Eliphaz’s speech (especially the first part) didn’t sound that bad. It seemed like his biggest error, as presented in The Message, was talking TOO MUCH.

I’m suspecting that’s not the right answer :-) but I just HAVE to ask about the other side of the story! Vs 7-8 (The Message): “Think! Has a truly innocent person ever ended up on the scrap heap? Do genuinely upright people ever lose out in the end? It’s my observation that those who plow evil and sow trouble reap evil and trouble.” If Eliphaz is talking “short-term” — i.e., righteous people don’t have problems — then he is definitely in error. But if he’s talking about the “long-term” (eternal life/death—recognizing that righteousness/innocence is through God’s grace), then he’s talking too much (not helpful either), but may not be in error otherwise. So, is it possible that he was talking about the “long-term?” (I haven’t read the rest of Job recently, so “spoilers” are welcome!) Then again, Eliphaz is referring to his “observation” (in the Message), so maybe it is short term.

C. How would this increase Job’s pain?

Job has probably been questioning what he could have done wrong. He was pretty conscientious about offering sacrifices for his children and seemed very sensitive to right/wrong. So Eliphaz’s monologue could have pushed Job into useless introspection. Even if Eliphaz was just talking too much, he would have been exhausting to be around, especially for someone in so much pain. Job maybe could have used some earplugs.

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#2A) I think “After this” means after a week or 2, after getting over the initial shock of what happened, after sitting there in his misery. To me Ch. 3 is Job beginning to question God. In verses 11-23 Job says “why” 6 times. I’d say he’s having a bit of a tantrum asking why he was born or at least didn’t die soon after! As my “trusty friend” Matthew Henry says, “Ch. 3 is written, not for our imitation, but our admonition, that he who thinks he stands may take heed lest he fall.”

This is one of the places where the Bible is so real. God doesn’t sugar-coat things. I think he does this so we won’t be shocked at our own reactions to things. I mean, Job was lamenting that he was even alive! I can relate. But did God abandon him? No! Will he abandon me? No!

Later on in the book, God chastises Job, “Who do you think you are? Did you hang the stars etc etc?” God taught Job, and ultimately us, how to relate to Him during tragedy. Praise Him!

I love it that you are really digging and probing. Since none of us can really know another’s heart, we are only surmising.

In addition to the good thoughts you’ve expressed, what do you think about the change in Job’s tone after his friends sat shiva? Do you see a release of a true lament? Do you think that bothered his friends?

    It does seem like it made them uncomfortable. Maybe because they thought he must be deserving all his suffering for some sin he wasn’t confessing.

    But, it occurred to me, that God is NOT bothered by our laments. He encourages us, in fact, to pour our hearts out to him (1 Peter 5:6) because He cares for us.

    And Psalm 62:8 says to pour our hearts out to Him for God is our refuge.

    The irony is, sometimes my heart is filled with rage AT God, like when I first read Marlys’ testimony above (because it struck home to me with similar pain I’ve felt for my own children, or when I recently heard of an overwhelmingly horrible thing that happened to a child recently in the news, or when I keep struggling with the same weaknesses, returning like a dog to its vomit over and again (That’s from this verse, Proverbs 26:11, in ref. to a fool repeating his folly.

    BUT, another irony occurs when I “lament” and pour my heart out to God after times like that; one that supersedes the other, and that is that I end up feeling closer to Him.

    I mean, I’m literally yelling at God, “Why!!!!! WHY???????” And yet, he remains by my side, or is, rather, holding me in His lap, because I “feel” his arms tighten around me.

    And He ALWAYS comforts me and whispers the truth gently in my ear, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”, or whatever it is my soul needs to hear at the time. Gloris

      p.s. I think I’ll post that on Gloriadelia today. :)

    Reply

    I do think that Job expressed a true lament. He was in a great deal of pain. I suspect that his lament made his friends uncomfortable. I think it would be “normal” to feel uncomfortable when someone expresses such personal and deep pain to God for a few reasons: 1) It hurts me to watch someone I care about experiencing pain; 2) Because Job was expressing very personal and “socially inappropriate” feelings to God, his friends may have felt as if they were “butting in” to Job’s personal pain; 3) people may feel awkward when they don’t have good answers or solutions to the pain; 4) I think it takes some experience to not feel uncomfortable among those in deep pain — maybe because they remind us of our own vulnerability, or lead us to denial about our own vulnerability. Long answer for “yeah, I think Job’s lament bothered his friends because I think it might have bothered me.”

      Reply

      Like what you say about feeling awkward and uncomfortable when around those in deep pain. Good thoughts, Renee.

I like the movie The Apostle, though many Christians do not. In one scene the main character is saying, “Lord — this is Sonny. I’m mad at You — You know I’m mad at You — but I love You Lord — I love You — but I’m mad at You.”

In a real relationship — don’t we want honesty?

And God knows our thoughts anyhow — so we might as well tell Him!

    I agree. I did write about this on Gloriadelia. Here’s the link: http://gloriadelia.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/pour-out-your-heart/

    I put Fernando Ortega singing “Give Me Jesus” at the end.

    That’s the paradox. “…I’m mad at You” combined with “Give Me Jesus”.

    It reminds me of what Peter said somewhere in the Bible about “where else have we to go, but with you?”

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Gloris,I was so blessed by ‘Give Me Jesus’. Very tired tonight and that was perfect. Thank you.

Marlys, your testimony is such a glory to God. To find peace in the midst of such pain is the Light that draws others to Him like moths to a flame. This world is so devoid of peace and it is just what people are looking for. From what Dee has shared about Steve’s battle with cancer, I think this is also how God was glorified in his illness and death. When God is glorified, people are drawn to Him and I’m starting to think that this is always the point. I hope I do not oversimplify. I know these things are much more complex. And I don’t know how that could apply to Job’s suffering except for the fact that he has encouraged countless others through the ages by his stubborn clinging to God.

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    Oh, Anne, I so agree with you! E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G that happens is to bring God glory, so people can see that it’s not “all about us.” And Job’s story does that in a big way, I think!

    And thank you for your kind words about my testimony. It’s really God’s, but He is gracious to let me “share.”

    Bless you!

Would love to hear from a few more of you today. I’ll post a new post in the morning as we head into this holiest of weeks. I think you’ll love some of the “resurrection” sightings of Job.

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Wow. There has been so much really good sharing on this.

Like Renee, I too turned to The Message translation because I have a hard time understanding the motives, or intentions, of Job’s friend Eliphaz. It seems, on the surface, that Eliphaz is being understanding and even supportive. He reminds Job that he has helped and encouraged others in their suffering. He says,

“But now you’re the one in trouble – you’re hurting!
You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?
Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?”

It “sounds” encouraging, like, what do you really have to worry about, Job? You’re a good guy – take heart in that!

But it strikes me, even reading further into Job, that Eliphaz and the other two talk way too much, like they’re thinking out loud. I don’t think that’s helpful to Job.

So in #3 A. What was Eliphaz doing those 7 days of silence? His mind may have been trying to explore every possible reason for Job’s dilemma. He was trying to figure this whole thing out. I agree with Dee’s comment that he had the mentality of if one keeps the rules, then all should go well.

I liked Anne’s comment that Eliphaz was sympathetic, but not empathetic, and the distinction between the two.

What confuses me is where Eliphaz says, “Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope? Think! Has a truly innocent person ever ended up on the scrap heap?” Is he saying, Job, you’ve been good. You will come through this, there will be a good end, because you are truly innocent?

Then he says, “It’s my observation that those who plow evil and sow trouble reap evil and trouble”. Is he now saying that Job has a dark side that God knows about and now, therefore, he is reaping what he has sown?

It seems hard to determine if Eliphaz is saying Job is innocent, or if he is to blame.

Either way, I think all his wordiness and theorizing would have made Job just want him to be quiet or go away!

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Marlys,

your sharing about your son was very powerful. It wasn’t until after my nephew died that I began to learn all that he was involved in, with drugs, and that I began reading about things like heroin use and trying to understand. I had been very ignorant of these things.
I am so sorry for all you have been through. I don’t know what that would be like, if it were my own son.

I must admit that I have to look at myself and see if I have a bit of an Eliphaz in myself.
When I sit with someone in grief, am I really, really just listening, or am I thinking and formulating my reply, trying to decide what to say?
Have I judged another because, in their grief, they don’t behave the way I think is normal?
Do I overlook someone’s grief and the deepness of their hurt because on the outside they seem to be “holding-up”?
Do I ever talk too much? Try to find something or someone to blame?
Am I the kind of person that someone could safely lament with? Can I take their anger, bitterness, even rage at God and not judge them or reprove them?

It seems these friends thought that they had to have an answer. There just are no answers for every situation. I think this would have increased Job’s pain in that, he couldn’t just vent his feelings without his friends answering him back, almost debating with him, at times. If Eliphaz was trying to point the finger at Job and imply that he was getting what he deserved, that would have been very cruel.

The best thing my friends did for me was just to let me talk, even if I said the same things over and over.
One of the worst things someone said to me, about a month after Thomas died and I was still sad, was to say “It’s time to move on”.

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    Susan, what you say here about Job’s friends thinking they had to have an answer to his lament rings so true. They increased his pain by not allowing him to lament. I have worked at the same hospital for the last 25 years and have seen myself change so much as my institution has also changed. I was so immature and self centered when I first started and I got into more difficult situations with patients. I began to mellow some as the Lord softened me but one thing that I think also changed me was a class I went to about 10 years ago. They taught us how to apologize for hardships and mistakes that we may not have been responsible for. How to let a patient vent and not try to defend but just sympathize. I didn’t think much of the idea at the time but God gave me grace and I began to do it. I have reaped a wonderful harvest from this practice. Many times it completely defuses anger and frustration whereas answers inflame the situation. Just to say “I’m so sorry you have had to go through this” is like balm to a wound.

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      Reminds me of the verse in Proverbs, Anne, that a “gentle answer turns away wrath”. You are so right. I’ll pray for you and your son, too. Hang in there! We went through those difficult teenage years; our oldest turns 19 soon, a freshman in college – it gets better – he’s got a good head on his shoulders. My 16 year old is the sullen, sulky one now, but I told him the other day I know my Ryan is just trapped inside that 16 year old body… I got a smile out of him!

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I would like to ask for prayer. I confiscated my 13 yr old’s phone this morning hopefully in the nick of time. I told him just the other day that I was praying that he would get caught if he ever did anything wrong. When I checked his phone this morning there were a ton of messages from a girl trying to seduce him. I thank the Lord for answering my prayer but I need much more help from Him. I’m in way over my head. I appreciate all of you so much. What a blessing this blog is.
Love, Anne

    Lord, thank You for answering Anne’s prayer. I pray You would grant her favor with her son, and that You would woo him, soften him, and help him see his mother’s heart. We’re all way over our heads without You, dear Lord. Please be a Father to this son.
    In Jesus Name

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      Thank you Lord

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      Marlys, This is exactly what I am reading! Not only am I reading it but I am also in a chapter most helpful for what we are going through right now. God is so awesome! Paul Tripp preached a great sermon at our church last Sunday and somewhere on the blog I posted the link because I thought it pertinent to what we are talking about. I think it may be in the last segment.

      Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging comments.

      Marlys, What do you especially like about this book? I just peeked in at the link you gave. It looks good.
      Gloris

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#5. What have you learned?

Just to be a “safe haven” for someone who is hurting. Let them be themselves. Keep my words very few.

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1. Job 2:11-13 Describe what the friends did.

Job’s friends, after hearing the news, got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console Job.

2. Job 3

A. Why did Job finally lament?

For seven days Job and his friends have been sitting in silence. The custom of shiva dictates that no one speaks until the one in mourning speaks. Speaking from experience I believe Job was processing all the devastating events. When I read this question I thought of my own lament (I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time) I expressed three days before my court date to have my marriage annuled.

“Why can’t I just take my last breath on this earth? Death seems to be preferable to the pain. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on to my sanity. Everything I have known is dead!”

B. What phrases of lament stand out to you?

I can identify with the whole chapter.

3. Job 4: 1-8

A. I think Eliphaz was preparing his argument like a prosecuting attorney does. Here are the facts why Job deserves his suffering. I do not see much empathy when he tells Job to be quiet and let him speak now (v. 1).

B. Eliphaz’s error is found in verse 8. He states that from experience those who plant trouble will harvest evil. It seems to me he thinks he has all the answers to as to why Job has trouble. Can we surmise from his comments that secretly he may have been jealous of all of Job’s success?

C. How would this increase Job’s pain?

Eliphaz’s accusations were like stabbing Job with an invisible knife. Job has lost everything and now his friend thinks he deserves it. I know an Eliphaz and I avoid her when I am hurting.

4. What did friends do for you that was particularly comforting?

In my situation it seemed everyone turned their back on me. Most people shunned me at church except for a handful. But through the generosity of my one of my clients, God let me know He had not forgotten me. This particular client is a high school teacher and is very appreciative of my services. During 2009 she remembered me at Valentine’s Day by giving me a bag of goodies. At Easter she gave me a monetary bonus. One Friday when I arrived at work I found she had given me the gift of a very nice ice cream scoop. Another friend paid my way to go see a musical in Savannah, Ga and treated me to dinner. There were times I had to fight bitterness because inwardly I would complain to the Lord that no one cares. I think He allowed me to experience that so I could learn to press into Him for my comfort instead of looking to others for comfort.

5. What have you learned, after your pain, about what not to do with others?

I have learned not to reject others. People want to know that others care about them when they are in pain. The ones who ministered to me the most were the ones who acknowledged my presence with a smile and a touch on the arm without a word. When others are in pain no words are needed. JUST ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR EXISTENCE.

6. “Sitting Shiva”.

I gleaned my info about shiva from the book JEWISH LITERACY: THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE JEWISH RELIGION, ITS PEOPLE, AND ITS HISTORY by RABBI JOSEPH TELEUSHKIN

Before I share the custom of shiva I would like to share the Jewish burial customs. Rabbi Teleushkin writes, “Jewish tradition acitively discourages any denial of the reality of death. Almost immediately after a person dies, the body is covered with a sheet. At the funeral, the casket is closed. Later, wthen the casket is lowered into the ground, the immediate mourners are expected to pour the first shovelfuls of earth over it. The terrible patter of the earth hitting the casket effectively forces the mourners to accept the totality of their loss.” He goes on to explain that the codes of Jewish law state that the goal of the funeral oration, the hesped, is to make everyone present feel the depth and pain of the loss. After the burial, mourners return home (or, ideally, to the home of the deceased) to sit shiva for seven days. Sitting on low stools reinforces the mourners’ inner emotions. The depression is acted out literally.
there are seven relatives for whom a Jew is required to observe shiva: father/mother, sister/brother, son/daughter, and spouse. During the shiva week, three prayer services are conducted daily at the mourner’ house.
According to Jewish law, there is a specific etiquette for paying a shiva visit. Visitors are to enter quietly, take a seat near the mourner, and say nothing until the mourner addresses them first.
Mourners must not shave, take a luxurious bath, wear leather shoes (which Jewish tradition regards as particularly comfortable), have sex, or launder their clothes during the week of shiva. If the family of the deceased is in desperate economic circumstances, its members are permitted to return to work after three days of mourning.
On the Sabbath that falls during the shiva, the public laws of mourning are suspended. Mourners are permitted to leave the house in order to attend synagogue services.
Jewish tradition dictates that neighbors come to the mourners’ house to prepare food for them before they return from the cemetery. The rabbis realized that if food were not prepared, the mourners might not eat at all.
The seven days of mourning officially begin when the mourners return home from the cemetery. On the seventh day, the mourners are required to sit shiva for only a small part of the day. After a half hour or so in the morning of the seventh day, shiva ends. Often the rabbi or a synagogue representative comes to the house on the last morning and escorts the mourners on a short walk around the block, symbolizing the mourners’ return to the regular world.

Marlys, I ,too, appreciate you sharing your testimony. I share Renee sentiments in that I would also enjoy having you as a friend. That goes for Renee also. I’ve always been the loner type. Being part of this community means alot to me. Yesterday was a tough day for me. I was hit with a migraine and because I am sensitive to light it makes driving difficult, for my eyes want to close to avoid the light. I sang Be Still My Soul on the way home so I could stay focused. But what really helped was remembering that Marlys was praying for me. That thought stayed in my mind all day. As Paul wrote so long ago “I thank God upon every rememberance of you”.

Thanks for intriguing research on “sitting shiva” Tammy, Renee — and the good testimony from nurse Anne on that great training program.

Please pray for a mighty stirring of the Spirit regarding the next post in the hearts of those who are coming to participate.

Love to each of you as we begin Holy Week!

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