Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I am what I am by Gloria Gaynor

Beverly Knight closed the opening ceremony of the Paralympics with what has been dubbed the signature tune of the Paralympics. I had no idea Ms Knight is still in the singing business. And clearly going by the raving reviews she will continue to be around. One media source says her performance was so electric that "there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen as she sang the lyrics to the song and people even watching at home felt the passion in her words" . The song was Gloria Gaynor's I am what I am . Clearly not written by Gloria Gaynor but certainly musically owned and popularized by her. It opens triumphantly: I am what I am / I am my own special creation / So come take a look / Give me the hook or the ovation / It's my world that I want to have a little pride in / My world and it's not a place I have to hide in / Life's not worth a damn till you can say I am what I am The words “I am what I am” echo over ten times in the song. A bold declaration that she

Spiritual Leadership

J Oswald Sanders (1917-1992) was a Christian leader for seventy years.  He wrote more than forty books on the Christian life including one book I dip into often, The Incomparable Christ. He was the director of the China Inland Mission (Overseas Missionary Fellowship), where he was instrumental in beginning many new missions projects throughout East Asia.  Spiritual Leadership encourages the church to pray for and develop Spirit empowered leaders. People who are guided by and devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. The book presents the key principles of spiritual leadership. He illustrates his points with examples from Scripture and biographies of men who have led the people of God in history.  The book has 20 chapters. I have tried to summarise the main conclusions of these chapters under five key questions. Most of the ideas presented in this article are directly from the book. But I have  communicated these ideas in my own way, except where direct quotes are given. Towards the end, I off

Inconsistency of Moral Progress

If morality, if our ideas of right and wrong, are purely subjective, we should have to abandon any idea of moral progress (or regress), not only in the history of nations, but in the lifetime of each individual. The very concept of moral progress implies an external moral standard by which not only to measure that a present moral state is different from an earlier one but also to pronounce that it is "better" than the earlier one.  Without such a standard, how could one say that the moral state of a culture in which cannibalism is regarded as an abhorrent crime is any "better" than a society in which it is an acceptable culinary practice? Naturalism denies this. For instance, Yuval Harari asserts: "Hammurabi and the American Founding Fathers alike imagined a reality governed by universal and immutable principles of justice, such as equality or hierarchy. Yet the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination of Sapiens, and in th