Job is angry with his friends for their accusations, with the physicians for their inability to cure him of his ailments, and with God for remaining silent when called upon. He is utterly alone with no one to hear his cries or heal his suffering.
I have been grieved for the past week. On July 6 a black man, Philando Castile was fatally shot by police in a town not far from where I live, and just blocks from where I used to live at Luther Seminary. Immediately following the shooting, Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds took to Facebook Live, documenting the aftermath in real time.
The event has sparked national outrage (again). And local grief. Castile’s funeral was held yesterday, July 14. A horse-drawn carriage carried his casket from the funeral home to the Cathedral where thousands gathered to mourn and celebrate his life. News media respectfully covered the event, giving us at home enough to remember Castile, but not enough to be obtrusive.
What has really stuck with me (aside from the tragic loss and devastation to so many, of course) was this. Like Job, I could imagine Diamond Reynolds in the moment of Castile’s death, feeling utterly alone with no one to hear her cries or heal her suffering. In that moment, instead of withdrawing or shutting down, she reached out. She made her cries known on social media. She called out for the burden of her suffering to be shared. And millions around the world heard her cries and took on themselves the burden of her suffering. Peaceful protests showed the world that she and Castile’s family were not alone, and their suffering would not go unnoticed. People all over the world stepped up to be the hands, feet, and heart of Christ for them.
I cannot imagine the depth of suffering endured by the family. I can, however, imagine that their suffering might be lessened ever so slightly by knowing they do not suffer in isolation. Maybe this is something Job learned – that when we cry together and bear one another’s burdens, pain and suffering will not defeat us.
“Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God. As for you, you whitewash with lies; all of you are worthless physicians. If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom! Hear now my reasoning, and listen to the pleadings of my lips. Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him? Will you show partiality toward him, will you plead the case for God? Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another? He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality. Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, your defenses are defenses of clay.
“Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may. I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand. See, he will kill me; I have no hope; but I will defend my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears. I have indeed prepared my case; I know that I shall be vindicated. Who is there that will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die. Only grant two things to me, then I will not hide myself from your face: withdraw your hand far from me, and do not let dread of you terrify me. Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.
“How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why do you hide your face, and count me as your enemy? Will you frighten a windblown leaf and pursue dry chaff? For you write bitter things against me, and make me reap the iniquities of my youth. You put my feet in the stocks, and watch all my paths; you set a bound to the soles of my feet. One wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.”