Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6 characteristics of crisis

For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.
Job 3:25-26

This is the description of a soul in crisis. Job is expressing the extent of his personal suffering and at least for the moment his pitying friends are listening to him. He pours out his feelings. There are six ways he describes his internal suffering.

1) FEAR. Job is afraid. The things that he has feared most are now his reality. He has lost wealth. He has lost his family. He has lost his health. He really has nothing left in life except his very life and breath.

2) LACK OF CONTROL. Job uses language ("comes upon", "befalls") that indicates the sudden and inescapable circumstances he now lives with daily. And the suffering came without warning. He is helpless to stop the feelings after the events, just as he could not prevent them from happening either. It is all out of his control. That is one of the worst aspects of suffering for us. It must be endured and we can't stop it.

3) UNSETTLED. Job could not be at ease in his suffering. There was really nothing that would suddenly make it all better. His circumstances were monumentally painful. No magic words of comfort could ever change that. No medicine would restore his joy.

4) DISQUIETED. Job's thoughts were filled with his crisis night and day. He could not escape its ever present reality. He could not be quiet about it. He had to converse over it, to mourn, to speak it, and to talk it out. It could not be ignored.

5) RESTLESS. Sleep was impossible and the crisis was compounded by lack of rest. But this is a common complication in suffering. It magnifies the feelings and drags the crisis on minute by sleepless minute.

6) TROUBLED. This was the dominant thought about everything. The story reads in such a way that bad news kept falling by the hour. It was a steady flow of heartbreaking trouble that eventually flooded his life and has at this point in the story started to drown his soul so that he despaired of life, cursing the day of his birth.

Crisis tests the human spirit, and what we see in Job, we'd see in our own hearts when trouble comes. The human drama is captured in scripture for our comfort and instruction. It's hard to look at, but necessary for us to know so that we know that God knows our troubles.

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