June 25 | Daily Devotion

June 25 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a complete reading of the passage

Lectio Semi-continua: a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

C. S. Lewis was a bachelor most of his life. While he had a small circle of friends at Oxford and became a household name through his novels, he was by and large a person who preferred the solitude of a scholarly life. That is, until he fell in love with an American admirer, a poet named Joy Davidman. He was 58, she was 41, and his life was filled with unspeakable joy. And then, she was taken from him; cancer ended their three-year marriage. Lewis, one of the greatest minds of the Christian world, struggled with the one word question, Why? It seemed God had brought into his life the one person he could give his heart to only to cruelly snatch her away and leave him brokenhearted. Lewis penned A Grief Observed and published under a nom de plume. He feared that the raw honesty of his pain and his struggle with God would discourage loyal readers. (The book was published under his name only after his death.) In the introductory remarks, Lewis explained the pronoun A in his title, this was a grief observed. While we can sympathize with others in their pain, Lewis argued that it is often difficult to fully understand all that they are feeling. (See Proverbs 14:10 and related commentary.)

Sometimes our grief is so great that the counsel of friends feels hallow. When someone says, “I understand what you are going through, “ you want to yell back, “No, you don’t!” This is exactly what Job experiences. Well-meaning friends offer advice on how to handle his painful loss, children, property, wealth, and health. His wife is angry with God and with him. To grasp Job’s point of view, you must read the counsel of his friends from the perspective of a hurting person. There is some truth to their words, but their timing couldn’t be worse!

Eliphaz basically says, Job, you spent your entire life encouraging other people in trouble, now that you have a little trouble you are ready to give up. Come on, pull it together (Job 4:3-5). Ouch! The same friend says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects, “ and what he says is true, but Job hasn’t done anything wrong so the truth is spoken out of turn (Job 5:17)! In the same passage, Eliphaz makes a pronouncement that must have hurt Job even more: “You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth” (Job 5:25). True, God could bless Job with children again (and He would), but the kids he buried can never be replaced. The counsel of Job’s friends borders on cruelty! No wonder he calls them “undependable” and accuses them of disloyalty (Job 6:14-15).

When people are grieving, we need to be careful with our words and sensitive in our counsel. I wish I had learned this as a younger pastor. Sometimes I was too quick to give advice. Job’s friends talked like they knew everything, when, in all truth, they had never been privy to the conversations that took place between God and the adversary, Satan. They really didn’t know what was going on. Consequently, their counsel missed the mark, widely. When people are hurting, they need to hear more sympathy and comfort and less advice: I don’t know that I understand what God is doing in your life, but I know that He loves you, and I do too. I know what it’s like to hurt, but I can’t say I fully understand all that you are feeling. I’m here to help you in any way I can though. Right now, I’m just going to be your friend. Let me bring you another tissue.  

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.