“Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul…”– Job 7:11
It is somewhat amusing, the sun is shining, I am very blessed, and rather than the “anguish of my spirit or the bitterness of my soul,” I only tend to suffer from rather mild bouts of occasional angst and slight distress. Of course, unlike Job, I am not covered in boils and being challenged by the enemy, so that does tend to make life much easier.
Long ago there was this handsome man who rejected me, claiming I was too serene and full of grace. That puzzled me for years, because I never felt the least bit serene or full of grace. In truth I am rather intense, the precise opposite of serene, and any grace I may have is not of me, but through me. That guy went on to date a series of women that just made me scratch my head. Let’s just say he was really attracted to some rather rough and hostile women. He got completely pulverized and after his second divorce, we lost contact for a number of years. When we touched base again, he had married this very sweet and gentle woman with two kids. He said it was the most amazing thing, he thought he was done with love and then suddenly there she was. Then he rather blissfully declared, “she was just so serene and full of grace I couldn’t help myself!”
Oh, now if that is not a slug to the pride, I don’t know what is! Those precise words he had once said to me, he used again. I doubt he remembers, but women, we remember everything, every minute detail. Also he rejected me, a rather rare occurrence so it stood out in my memory.
Long story short, it’s good he turned me down, it wouldn’t have worked out at all, and today we are a bit like old friends, family even, and although we seldom see each other, we have watched each others lives unfold with fascination and interest.
He was right you know, in some ways I am serene and full of grace, although once again that is not of me but rather often flows through me. I don’t ruffle easy or take offense or get tangled up in drama very often.
There is a danger there however, that I recognize, a desire to be sweetly carried away by the lullaby of life, to embrace the peace that surpasses all understanding, and to just rejoice in the wonder of it all. To be in the world, but not of the world…
A few years back I had a rather convicting dream, I was standing under a cherry tree watching the pink blossoms fall and my neighbors across the street where carrying on fighting, drinking, and Christ appeared, whispered to me and said, “what are you doing in the midst of such anguish? Is there no bitterness in your soul?”
The next day I had to read the entire book of Job to find those words, but when I did it clicked and resonated. It is all well and good to be a sweet gentle spirit, to rejoice and wrap oneself in grace and peace, and it certainly applies well in marriage and family life. In the world however, there is a time to stand up, to speak out, to show you care, to allow yourself “to speak in the anguish of your spirit, to complain in the bitterness of one’s soul…”
To love Christ’s people requires one to care and to care creates anguish and anguish will sometimes make your soul cry out in bitterness and despair, but is that not what we are called to do? The very definition of grace is unmerited Divine favor. It is unconscionable for one to embrace grace and yet to ignore those who suffer, to cover one’s eyes when one sees bad things, or to remain silent in the face of injustice.
It’s true, I do beat a few dead horses. I plan to continue to beat them too, until they are properly revived. I cannot do it alone, but we are never really alone, are we?