"If only my grief could be weighed and placed with my calamity on the scales.
I. THE SUFFERER NATURALLY DESIRES AN APPRECIATION OF HIS SUFFERINGS,
1. That he may be understood. You cannot understand a man till you know how be feels. Words are more than descriptions of bare facts; they may be utterances of the heart. To comprehend their import we must enter into the feelings of the speaker. We should study the needs and troubles of those whom we desire to understand in order to help them.
2. That he may be fairly judged. Eliphaz had made the most galling charges against Job, partly because he was utterly below understanding the afflicted man's overwhelming grief. We are unjust with those who are incomprehensible to us. Christ's executioners did not know him, and he prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). The mob that yelled at him anti hounded him to death had not the least conception of his Gethsemane agony.
3. That he may receive sympathy. Sympathy helps us to understand one another. But without some preliminary knowledge we can have no kind of sympathy. Ignorant, well-meant attempts at sympathy hurt rather than heal, and chafe the very wounds they are intended to soothe.
II. IT IS NOT EASY TO FIND SCALES IN WHICH SUFFERING CAN BE WEIGHED. Where shall we look for a standard of measurement? We cannot judge by outside tokens of grief; for some are reserved and self-restrained, while others are demonstrative in their abandonment to grief. We cannot judge by the measure of the events that have caused the suffering; for some feel the same calamity much more keenly than it would be felt by others. Each sufferer is tempted to think that his troubles surpass all others. We can only understand a man in so far as we can succeed in putting ourselves in his place. But only Christ can do this perfectly. His incarnation is a guarantee of his complete comprehension of human sin and sorrow; so that the sufferer who is misapprehended by his most intimate earthly friends may be assured of the perfect sympathy of his Saviour. Moreover, with his own thoughts the sufferer might measure his grief in a way which would help him to apprize it more justly than by wild conjectures. Suppose he measured it against his blessings: is it so vastly greater? Or suppose he weighed it with his deserts: is it so immensely heavier? Or suppose he compared it with what Christ suffered for him: is there really any comparison between the Christian's roughest cross and the awful cross of his Saviour? - W.F.A.
1. It is a duty to weigh the saddest estate and afflicted condition of our brethren thoroughly. But what is it to weigh them thoroughly? It is not only to weigh the matter of an affliction, to see what it is which a man suffers, but to weigh an affliction in every circumstance and aggravation of it; the circumstance of an affliction is often more considerable then the matter of the affliction. If a man would confess his sins, he is to confess not only the matter of them, as sins are the transgressions of the law, and errors against the rule, but he must eye the manner in which sin hath been committed, the circumstances with which it is clothed, these render his sin out of measure, and out of weight sinful. Likewise, would a man consider the mercies and favours received from God, would he know them thoroughly, and see how much they weigh, let him look, not only what, but how, and when, and where, and by whom he hath received them. There may be a great wickedness in a little evil committed, and a great mercy in a little good received. Secondly, He that would weigh an affliction thoroughly, must put himself in the case of the afflicted, and (as it were) make another's grief his own: he must act the passions of his brother, and a while personate the poor, the sick, the afflicted man: he must get a taste of the wormwood and of the gall upon which his brother feedeth: in a word, he must lay such a condition to heart. In these two points, this holy art of weighing grief, consists: consideration of circumstances, and sympathy of the smart. Mere speculation moves little. We have no feeling of another's suffering, till we have a fellow feeling. The bare theory of affliction affects no more than the bare theory of fire heats.
Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed.
1. In one scale look how he has put his SELF. The first personal pronoun is heavy enough in these speeches. Job's friends perceived his egoistic spirit, and heaped up therefore the opposite scale. What art thou compared to the Eternal? Very sublime is the God whom Eliphaz puts over against Job. He fills all — man is nothing. No man's thoughts or sufferings are to be seen or heard or reckoned against the Absolute. But should I not say "I"? Am I in no sense to feel myself and be an egoist? in my solemn hours I cannot but know and dwell with a very real being within me which is my ego. God and sin are nothing to me unless first of all I have a personality, What is the indwelling of Christ, unless I have a separate individuality Into which He can come? David says, "I am a little lower than the angels." May I not say the same? Yes, say it; say it loud and clear. But balance it. Put into the other scale, for example, your fellow men. Other men have as intense a self as you. They, too, are crowned with glory and dignity, and have their range of feelings, strong and tender, like thyself. "Let each esteem other better than himself." Put also into the other scale over against thyself the great Other. Down on the seashore when we wander, or when we look out on the starry heavens, how clearly and with all its mystery we say "I." But as we say it, there comes back from the ebon walls of night the echo of the voice of That Other, which brings ourself into equilibrium. We sweep our hands out and whisper to ourselves, "my power," or we lift up our heads, proud in the consciousness of our knowledge. But when God sweeps His hand across the heavens, or lifts up the might of His knowledge, then the pride of the human heart is humbled. We bow our heads in silence; not crushed out of all consciousness, but balanced and rightly weighed by the thoughts of men and God.
2. Job's egoism arose from his sorrow. How much he makes of his afflictions. His howling is dismal. Chapters 6 and 7 are one long lamentation, with much poetry in them, but truly a terrible heaping up of one scale. What shall we do to balance human sorrow? Laugh at it? Call it nothing? Call it commonplace? Nay, let us try and put something over against it which may outweigh it. Philosopher! hast thou aught which can balance a broken heart or a soul convulsed with agony? Surely thou hast something. Let us try your maxims, your precepts of self-control and of wholesome thought. Put them into the opposite scale; Bacon's "Essay on Adversity," beautiful extracts from Marcus Aurelius. Put them all in. Now lift up the balance and see. Ah! they weigh nothing. Scientist! canst thou do this great work? Go and tell Job your germ theories. Explain to him the nature of his sloughing sores, and see if you can answer his complaint. No, never. Religionist, what can you put into the opposite scale? Let us hear your doctrine. "God is the potter and man the clay. We are creatures of His, and He can do as seems best. Let us learn to submit to His sovereign will. The discipline is good, though bitter." Oh, what bitter drops of acid are all these to wounded souls. You only crush a man when you hurl at him, at such a time, God's sovereignty. No, lot us put into the opposite scale human sympathy. Let us acknowledge all the pain and sorrow and affliction of the sufferer. Let us suffer it, and feel its weight. Let our tears flow. Put our sufferings and our feelings into the opposite scale. Let us seek to put God's sympathy into the opposite scale. Not the absolute hard stern Deity Eliphaz labours to construct. Let us speak of His tenderness and pity. Is it not said, Jesus wept? Christ's tears will outweigh ours. When looking down into the dark and horrid grave, listen what Christ says, "Thy brother shall rise again." That is Christ's sympathy to balance thy crushing pain.
3. Job asks of God the question, "What have I done?" Ah! well might he heap up that scale; piling up to the heavens his sins, and offences, and ignorance. Probably there would be no scale large enough to hold our iniquities. Is this right? Oh yes. Know thy sins, O soul, all of them, black as hell and heavy as lead, and high enough to hide the light of heaven. But be not men of one idea. Have two ideas. Look into the other scale and see, if you can, a drop of Christ's precious blood. Lift up the scales, and see if this drop of precious blood does not balance all your sins. Yes! Thank God it does, cries out Bunyan. Nay, more, it outweighs them. "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin."
(J. D. Watters, M. A.)
2. It is an addition to a man's affliction, when others are not sensible of his affliction. Our high priest is none of your senseless priests, who care not what the people endure, so they be warm and at ease.
3. We can never rightly judge till we thoroughly weigh the condition of an afflicted brother. For Job conceived that Eliphaz proceeded to judgment before he had been in consideration.
4. A man who hath not been, or is not afflicted himself, can hardly apprehend what another endures who is under affliction. If we had a Mediator in heaven that had not been tempted on earth, we might doubt whether He would be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, whether sinning infirmities or sorrowing infirmities.
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