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"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"I will speak in the anguish of my spirit." Job 7:11
This is natural, but unwise. A spirit that is in anguish cannot take a fair and full view of any question. Anguish and justice can hardly dwell together. To speak in an agony of sorrow is to attach undue meanings to words, to burden them with unjust weight, and to shut out elements and considerations which are essential to impartial and philosophical conclusions. No man ought to speak in the anguish of his spirit concerning divine providence; otherwise he may charge God foolishly, bringing together all the inequalities, severities, and miscarriages of life, and urging them against the goodness of divine providence. We should be silent in sorrow, for to speak without self-control is to speak without wisdom. Let him speak who has passed through sorrow and seen something of its true purpose: then will he be likely to speak with the sobriety of experience and with the deep feeling of sympathy. We could not speak fairly about a friend in the moment in which he has caused us grief or severe anxiety; we should fall into an accusatory strain and charge him with having been inconsiderate if not cruel towards us. Time is required for many an explanation, social and divine. Sometimes we boast that in the course of a year or two the friend whom we have now annoyed or grieved will see the wisdom of our course and thank us for our decision or counsel: in the strength of this we support ourselves, sometimes indeed we plume ourselves with pardonable conceit; and when in the lapse of time our judgment is vindicated we hail our friend with the expectation that he will bless us for counsel that appeared to be unsympathetic or for a decision which was so stern as to be momentarily cruel. There are indeed countless incidents in life calculated to bring anguish upon the spirit, to excite scepticism in the heart, and to depose faith from its calm and absolute sovereignty: virtue is thrown down in the streets, vice has everything its own way, men who never pray are satisfied with abundance, and thus Providence appears to be on the side of wickedness and selfishness of every degree. Under such circumstances the spirit is filled with anguish, and when it speaks it is in tones of disapprobation or fretful-ness or unbelief. We should pray for the calm spirit, for the spirit of patience and longsuffering, and only speak after we have been in profound and continuous communion with God. Even a believing man, when he allows his anguish to dictate his speech, may offend against God, and bring discredit upon the altar at which he serves. Let us understand that the moment of anguish is to be the moment of silence, so far as criticism is concerned.
"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"Let me alone" Job 7:16
Here, again, is a natural exclamation, but one which we must train ourselves to stifle. No man can be let alone and yet live; in other words, life is an expression of communion and not of isolation. It is pleasant for the moment only to be left to oneself; even then the pleasure is a mere sensation, and is not the expression of a deep and permanent satisfaction. Can the branch say to the tree, Let me alone? Can the limb say to the body, Let me exist by myself? Can the hand live without being attached to the heart? Trace every human life in its finest expressions and issues, and it will be found that even the most lonely are not without association with the greatest, yea, even with God himself. Sometimes, for a moment, we may wish that even God himself would withdraw from us, at least in all controversial and judicial aspects: he presses us with too many questions, he impoverishes us by too many demands, he exhausts us by appeals too numerous to be answered. When we ask to be let alone, it is our weakness that speaks, not our strength: our exhaustion, not our reason. The one prayer we should constantly offer is, not to be let alone, but to be evermore an object of divine solicitude, and to be evermore called upon to answer divine claims. When God lets a man alone the man's doom is sealed. In the Book of Amos we find the words, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone"; preservation from this state should be our continual and ardent desire, When the sun lets the earth alone, the earth is chilled into ice. When the mother lets the infant alone, the infant dies. Let us take heart, for all the controversy through which we pass is but so much discipline, and the end of all discipline sent by Heaven and properly accepted by man is culture, strength, satisfaction.
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 7". Parker's The People's Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany