“My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me. Surely there are mockers about me, and my eye dwells on their provocation. “He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom men spit. My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart. (Job 17:1-2,6,11 ESV)
Though it is difficult to hear these words I think that it is therapeutic for Job to speak them. Sometimes our painful words simply need to be heard. I can relate a bit. Months after my first wife passed away I began to experience the enormity of my loss - I thought that I was losing my mind. I had no context to deal with my pain and needed help. About that time a chaplain invited me to a five week long grief recovery workshop. It was there that I would learn to grieve and to heal.
In the first session the chaplain spoke to us of stepping into our pain. He said that if we did not then we would walk around it for years and never release the pain. He asked us to take a week and write out what we were experiencing. The following week each of us read what we wrote to the group. Here is what I wrote:
We were so much a part of each other that it is hard to go on without her.
My soul aches within me and there is no comfort except the knowing that she no longer suffers.
Knowing that she is in the presence of God helps.
My flesh wants to move on with my life but my heart wants to remain in the past. Our life was so full together.
It is hard to imagine happiness without my Ellen.
As I cried through those words with the group I felt such deep pain being released. There is something wonderful about simply being "heard" by people. Perhaps the book of Job would not have been so long if his friends simply listened to him express his pain and speak of his broken heart? Maybe listening with empathy is what being a friend is all about?
Help us Lord to be quiet in the presence of wounded friends. Teach us to be there for them and to listen with empathy.