‘Who is this that darkens my counsel by words without knowledge?” ( Job 38:2) Another paraphrase puts it more visual for me, “who is muddying the waters?” Recently this verse was asked of me, deep in my soul. I could hear God asking. I had to answer with an honest, “It is I, who is muddying the waters and darkening your counsel.” I had to repent. In my desire to defend God, as if He needs me to do this for Him, and to comfort those in deep suffering, I have muddied the waters. I have entered in and added words and emotions that were not helpful, and really did not clarify who God was. I was commiserating with them and shaking my fist at God with them, but then turning around and telling them how God was for them and with them. Muddying waters….
God says, “Be still (stop thrashing about), and know I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) I feel people’s pain and heartache deeply. It is uncomfortable to stay in that space. I want to help them out of that space, but the more I know of God’s word and character, God wants to enter into that space and show Himself. He wants to reveal Himself and His character to that person. What that person needs from me is not answers, but presence. They need “Jesus with some skin on.” Even when people are asking questions of God, they really are not looking for answers to the problems, they want to know that God loves them and sees them. Me trying to prove His goodness, or trying to strengthen them to buck up under this weight is darkening God’s counsel, muddying the waters, as Job (the one who had just under gone some awful life tragedies) who was speaking on God’s behalf to His friends was doing.
The book of Job bothered me for many years, first a bit of conviction from the book because too many times I saw myself in Job’s friends, and then later the fact that there are no answers in the book. God never tells Job why all that stuff happened to him and his family. It troubled me. I wanted him to know why, but Job was much wiser than me and knew the point, he saw God. He gained a better view of God, and it took his breath away. It took his ego away. It took his need for answers away. He just wanted more of God. He realized how little of God he had seen previously, this coming from a man that God declared that “there is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8) This was not some slacker man, just getting by. God was bragging about him and yet in the end, Job’s view of God had been small. He spoke out of things he did not know. How much more do I do that when I speak to fill the ache or the void in someone’s life.
The power of being present in someone’s grief and pain ends up speaking louder and offering more comfort than any words I could offer. For some reason this lesson has surprised me over and over. The stiller I sit with a person in their storm, the less muddy the waters get, and the greater opportunity for God to show up and help both us see that He is God and He is good and He is closer than I could ever convey with plethora of words. He knows that person, He knew them before they were born. So I choose to enter into others’ pain and suffering, and I am choosing, or trying to choose to be still with them, and allow the water to settle and reveal things too wonderful for them and me to understand. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:3-5