Intellectualizing Pain

Date: Friday, January 11

Scripture: Job 11

Verse: You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. (Job 11:16)

Zophar, the third of Job’s “friends” whose soliloquies are found in chapters 11 and 20, is summed up well by Tom Long, as were Eliphaz and Bildad. “Zophar,” Long writes, “is Bildad who has gone to seminary” (Long, location 1256). Zophar’s answer to Job’s questioning in the midst of his suffering, is that Job doesn’t get it. He is even insulting. He tells Job he has little hope of understanding because “a stupid person will get understanding, when a wild ass is born human” (Job 11:12 NRSV). Ouch.

Maybe you have been there too. Maybe you have felt as though there is just no way of comprehending your suffering. It is beyond you, and you have given up.

More than that, you wonder if God even cares. You have heard Zophars and Bildads blame your problems on some sin in your life. They tell you working on your relationship with God will avoid this from happening again in the future. Zophar, who we know is wrong because we’ve read chapter 1, takes it a step farther when he tells Job that after getting right with God, “You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away” (Job 11:16 NRSV). How could he be so callous as to call the death of Job’s children as “waters that have passed away”?

Hearing someone minimize your suffering that way may cause you to wonder if God even cares about your pain. Thankfully, this is not the God we serve. God is not far from you, waiting for you to figure it out. He is not punishing you, nor is he assessing blame. God is deeply concerned with your pain and suffering, and enters into it with you.

Prayer: Help me, O God, not to intellectualize the pain of others, but to enter into it with them as we saw you do in Jesus. And give me the courage to share my struggles with you and others, so I may know healing. Amen.

Action: Watch and/or read the news today with an eye toward people who are suffering, rather than “problems.”

Respond: When have you minimized the pain of others, possibly as a coping mechanism? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below. If you are receiving this via email, go to the website for this devotion to do so.

Bibliography

Long, Thomas G. What Shall We Say?: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. Kindle.

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About Joe Iovino

Christian, husband & father, Associate Pastor in Monument CO, guitar player, motorcyclist, Mets fan.
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