That’s not my birth name.
It’s not my nickname.
It’s not some weird family term of endearment.
In fact, if there is a biblical name I hate more than any… If there is a biblical story I despise more than any other, it is the name and story of Job.
I don’t want to hear how I am a modern day version of Job. It makes me sick. It makes me angry. It gives me questions for which I am still impatiently demanding answers.
I read Job’s story and find it utterly horrific that God would allow, much less encourage the kind of faith testing Job endured.
But as hard as it might be to wrap our minds around it, since the day mankind choose sin and self over righteousness and God, Satan has owned the power and authority to wreak havoc in our lives.
Satan did it in Job’s life.
Satan did it in mine.
And maybe not to the extreme others have had to face, Satan is still doing his best to wreak havoc in all of our lives. Mine and yours included.
It’s bad enough when it comes through the destruction of tragedy… it’s more than bad enough when it comes at the hands of wicked evil men.
But the truth is, it happens more often as a result of our own personal choices and decisions.
For every person whose family is murdered, destroyed–whose life/lives are damaged beyond comprehension, there are thousands and thousands–untold numbers–who face destruction, heartache, and grief as a result of their own making, be it poor choices or systemic failure.
There are people all around us who look to be successful, even “faithful” church folk. There are good friends and family whom we know and love… and they are hurting, struggling, dying on the inside.
And they are often ashamed.
Ashamed of their own weaknesses.
Ashamed of their own doubt.
Ashamed of their own lack of faith, belief, and trust.
I know this to be a fact.
I know it because I am one of them.
Regardless of how we got here, we are here. And we are most likely not going away.
So the question for the church is this: what are you going to do with us? My experience is that the church can do just as much damage, cause just as much pain. Platitudes will not fix us. Neither will hoping we go away. And expecting us to fix what is broken ourselves may be a lost cause.
When you are dealing with broken people, it doesn’t really matter how they became broken, does it?
It shouldn’t but it often does. Sometimes we see the nastiness of broken lives and because they did it to themselves, we try to extract our pound of flesh–to add some more punishment.
Really? Isn’t that what God would have us do?
In case you didn’t catch that, no.
If you are stubborn like me, we’ll say it again, no!
Everybody who has received mercy, who has been given grace, should be a conduit of the very same.
Besides, turn about is fair play and one day it might just be you caught in a bad place…
I once preached for a church where those in leadership refused to allow a baby shower for any unwed mother. The one place where this broken life should find help, hope, understanding, and forgiveness became a place that piled on even more shame.
If you or your church wants to be a beacon of hope for the lost and weary, you could honestly begin and maybe do your very best work right there in your own family…
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
You save more lives with love than condemnation.
Thank you for helping save mine.
Les Ferguson, Jr.