When I was younger I went through a clumsy stage. There was one year that I ended up in A&E three or four times with injuries. I broke my arm, split a bone in my wrist, sprained my ankle and damaged my finger. There was also a saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” What a load of rubbish that was! Unkind words can do more damage than a broken arm. My arm and wrist are completely healed up, but some things said to me when I was a child still affect me to this day.
Words have a lot of power.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
Words can lift up and they can tear us down; bring life or death. Job’s friends are working on their destroying words in this section of the book. They are mounting waves of accusation at Job and speculating on the sin that Job has committed for him to be in such suffering. They want him to admit that he has done something really terrible because then they will be justified in being so judgemental. How long can he continue to listen to them? But Job is different to them. He doesn’t reply to their torrent of words but instead appeals to his knowledge of GOD – he recalls who GOD is.
He is the one who alone, stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. Job 9:8
I love that even here, in this ‘poetry’ book there are echoes of Jesus who walked on the waves.*
Later we read about Job’s plea, ‘If only there was someone to mediate between us‘ Job 9:33. Even in his pain and being deluged with offensive and accusing words, he exposes a longing for GOD to do something, he asks GOD for this mediator to bring them together. I wonder if he realised that this longing would be a prayer in the ears of the Mighty One that moves mountains and made the bear and Orion. This mediator could only be found in one that truly was completely blameless. Again, Job is speaking of Jesus.
When I am being tossed about on the waves – these might be pain and suffering or even circumstances, busyness and worries, I can relate to Job’s words in 9:33 ‘When He passes me, I cannot see Him, when He goes by, I cannot perceive Him‘. Orientation is muddled and confusing, surviving seems the only thing to do. But yet again, I am reminded to look up and beyond what I think I see. To trust that He hears my prayer and sends His answer at the right time. It encourages me to look out for GOD and be observant for what He is doing – to keep my eyes open!
I think for these pages, I was trying to show how a small prayer when you feel attacked, misunderstood and overwhelmed, still reaches GOD’s ears. GOD hears you and me. He knows what to send and when to send it. Job’s plea for a mediator had been heard before Job had even said it! In the waves of accusation poured out against us, we have a mediator.
This image of a tiny boat on a rough sea and words having the power to do damage is still playing on my mind. Job’s response to the unwise and lying words was to look to who GOD was. He was right to do so. When I believe what some child, teacher or other person said to me or about me when I was little (or yesterday) and that doesn’t line up with what God says, it is allowing that wave to rock me. Those words can affect how I speak, behave, interact, perceive, grow … they create waves. Job stayed steady despite the attempted waves hurled at him by his friends by addressing GOD with his all his “stuff” and calling out for help. The waves came at him but he was not going to be overcome by them.
Recently I have been thinking about the waves that rock me and how these waves have influenced who I am. They create a person that was not designed by GOD but a person fabricated to live on the waves, full of self preservation and protection. But GOD doesn’t want this for me as His design is perfect. He has sent a mediator that treads on the waves so that I don’t have to live this way. You see, the truth is …
He leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23:2
* This is one of Rach’s Where’s Wally moments.