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Glorious Loneliness!

I have been looking for a good book on Job. I remember asking a very active Facebook group of Christians, "Can someone please recommend a good book to read on the book of Job?". No one responded, except one chap who simply answered "the book of Job". A clever or silly response depending on your vantage point. But ultimately unhelpful.

Thankfully, I bumped into a wonderful pastor whose preaching during my lunch tme at work has been life changing. He had been preaching on Ecclessiates, so I asked him for tips on Ecclessiates and Job. Well, one of the books he recommended is the short book (115 pages) Out of the Storm : Grappling with God in the Book of Job by Christopher Ash.  

The best compliment I can give this short book is that it has made me want to read more and study Job. The book has so many excellents points and will post a few quotes from it going forward. But here is one of the excellents observations he makes : 
Even a non-serious illness cuts us off from others; we have to miss out on a family outing, a party or a gathering. There is (in the title of an old play) ‘Laughter in the room next door’. And if even light suffering begins to isolate the sufferer, heavy suffering isolates acutely. Even a shared loss is experienced uniquely by a bereft person. When a child dies, the father alone knows what it is to be the father of this dead child; only the mother enters the unique depths of loss as the mother of this son or daughter. However much they share, at the deepest level they suffer alone.
Indeed there's nothing more lonely than suffering. But perhaps there's a hopeful side to this loneliness. As I thought about it, it occured to me that perhaps that loneliness is a door way to something else. Could it be God allows suffering to isolate us for himself? Suffering acts to isolate us so that can focus solely on him - as we realise that everything we cling to in this very moment cannot help us. Job certainly knew that only God could do it! 

Shelly Hundley makes that very point in her book A Cry for Justice: Overcome anger, reject bitterness, and trust in Jesus who will fight for you [wonderful title!]. She says  "rather than disqualifying us from intimacy with God, pain escorts us into it". It is a remarkable picture of pain - an "escort" into God's quiet and sovereign presence. Now isolation becomes solitude! It becomes that phase in our life when we are being comforted by God himself.

And this is surely no idle speculation because Apostle Peter reminds us with that excellent statement, "So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you" [1 Peter 4:14]. The context is suffering for being a Christian. But it is true surely of any suffering that is beyond our control and not a result of wilfull disobedience (and even then if we respent, God's spirit rests doubly on us).  It is in that moment of pain and suffering that God gives us a double portion of himself. He rests upon us! Yes, the suffering cuts us off and makes us lonely, but oh what glorious loneliness it is then! For in that moment God is surely present! 

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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