“Think Words Never Hurt?”…Think Again!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 19-20

Many might remember the answer to childhood taunts was sometimes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”

Alas, life experiences have taught us that sticks can leave scars that will heal and stones may break bones, but they will mend; however, the cutting words of a friend pierces the heart with sorrows that follow some to their graves.

We have observed Job’s sorrows as his “friends” assail him with cruel judgments and piercing accusations that have left him wounded and despairing of life (19:1-4).  There is no doubt Job is a victim of unfounded criticisms and unmerciful condemnations; however, I observe he has fallen victim to an ill-advised practice of the wronged and wounded…keeping tally of the wrongs others have committed against him.  Job rightfully asks, How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?” (Job 19:2); however, his observation, “These ten times have ye reproached me” (Job 19:3) evidences the reality his focus is his accusers and not the LORD.

Someone reading this devotion may well be where we find Job–Guilty; guilty of keeping score of the wrongs and offenses of another. Have words wounded you?  Has a breach of trust left you vulnerable and unforgiving?

Surely you must know an angry, unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul and make you a slave to bitterness!  I challenge you…go to your offender and lovingly confront and seek peace with them if you cannot allow love to cover the offense (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8).  If love dictates you forgive, then confess your sorrows and hurts to the LORD and leave them with Him (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Job 19:5-20 paints a pitiful portrait of Job in the midst of his sorrows and deprivations.  He feels trapped with no means of escape (19:6); judged and condemned, and there is no justice (19:7); encircled by foes, but none hear or heed his cries for help (19:8-20).

Loneliness and hopelessness are bitter companions when losses, disappointments, and despair  besiege a man’s soul.  It is tempting to withdraw from family, friends, and our church family when we feel beset by wrongs and overwhelmed by sorrows.   At such times we nurse our wounds, lament our losses, and retreat into our misery.  It is here we take a page from Job’s life and listen as his heart and thoughts turn to the LORD:

For I know [with certainty and confidence] that my Redeemer [i.e. Kinsman Redeemer; Avenger] liveth, and that he shall stand [abide; endure] at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

In the midst of Job’s sorrows, his thoughts turned to the LORD and his hope renewed in the confidence that his “Redeemer”, would deliver his soul from trouble in the same way a “kinsman redeemer” would purchase his loved one out of a debtor’s prison.  Though all others might fail him, Job was confident the LORD was with him to the end.

I close with an invitation for you to listen to a beautiful recording inspired by Job 19:25 and composed by George Frideric Handel [please endure the 15 second commercial that precedes it].

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith