Virtual Voices

Lightning bug versus lightning

Faith & Inspiration

All Christians have troubles, and outwardly it may look as though they are suffering the same—the verbalizations of discouragement, frustration, perplexity, loneliness, fear, abandonment, shame.

For many years of reading Job I did not notice an interesting peculiarity of Job’s speeches in contrast to those of his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. It was a pronoun shift, nothing more. But a pronoun shift that came to appear as significant as a shift from day to night, or as great as the change in meaning of the word “lightning” depending on whether it was alone or was followed by the word “bug.”

What I saw was that the three friends, whenever it was their turn to speak, spoke always and only to Job, and when they referred to God it was only in the third person, as if He were a subject or topic to speak about. That is to say, their speech was confined, as it were, to a horizontal plane.

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Job’s habit of speech was different. At the beginning of each discourse he also spoke only to the men. And at first he also referred to God in a third-person way. But something happens in Job’s addresses that does not occur in that of his visitors, and I believe it reflects a truth about Job the man that is profound in contradistinction from the others. It is this: Without signal or signpost, suddenly Job tends to switch from addressing the men to addressing God (study the seamless transition points at 7:6-7; 9:35-10:1-2; 13:19-20; 14:12-13).

Ready for another bit of “trivia”? I notice that in the book of Lamentations, that heart-breaking lament of a people who have totally blown their destinies by recalcitrant rebellion, every chapter ends with a prayer. The exception is chapter 4, but arguably not, since chapter 5 is entirely a prayer.

What I glean from Job and Lamentations is this: It is common to man to have trouble and even to approach despair. But the difference between wasted sorrow and glory is the turning of any misery to prayer. Outwardly two grieving people will look identical, each with his box of tissues. But note well, for you may hear one of them ends each session of grief with inward-turning pessimism, while the other one redirects his words, like captain a ship’s rudder, upward toward the One who can help.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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