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Mercy For Misery

Misery loves company.  This is an idiom of speech. It seems to say that those who are miserable are less unhappy when someone joins them in their pain and trouble. Is it true? Does misery love company? That’s a saying we have heard, but does it make sense given the evidence we have as people?

Job was in a difficult situation. Three friends arrived and saw his problems and said nothing for a week. When these guys started to talk, each of them took turns trying to show Job where he was wrong. Their counsel was for Job to turn inward and make a careful analysis of himself. “Once you find what’s wrong with yourself, you fix it, and God will be on your side again” was the friends’ line of reasoning.

Human reason at its worst is on display in the speeches of these friends. They drive Job nearly insane because he has spent his life examining his heart and keeping it right before God. He refused to abandon his integrity — he clung to a couple things that he knew absolutely. He knew that his Redeemer lived (Job 19:25) and that, though tried, he would come forth as gold.

Look at this passage in Job 23:10-12: “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”

The Word of God was precious to Job. He had a relationship with Him, although this relationship was now under some strain. Still, Job kept pouring out his heart before the Lord. He was seeking Him. He refused to live in a form of “I” strain. That is, Job refused to get lost in his self-life.

The Miser

The essence of misery is the “I” strain, the ego vortex, the black hole of self that swallows all light. Look at the words “misery” and “miserable.” Both begin with “miser.” What is a miser? It is someone who holds on to stuff.

The most famous miser is an unreal one — that is, Ebenezer Scrooge, the character from Charles Dickens’ novel , A Christmas Carol.  A miser is stingy, so obsessed with keeping his money and things that life becomes a constant war to keep what is his. Hoarders are also misers of a certain type. They cannot get rid of anything and their homes become like landfills. At their core, there is fixation on self-preservation and self-absorption. Bitter people are miserly in that, in their hearts, they hoard all the injustices and slights that they have perceived over the years.

Perhaps there are things you are holding on to. Let them go.

I remember being an envious and possessive person, and I met someone who captivated me. My miserliness, my bent to hang on to everything destroyed the relationship. Fortunately, God was there to draw me to Himself and show me His way. Had I been able to manipulate and control that relationship, I would have suffocated the life out of the girl and out of me.  I would have shriveled up like Smeagol in Lord of the Rings — and eventually fallen into the fire in pursuit of something I so wanted to possess.

Forgive and Give

In Luke 6:36-38, Jesus prescribes a way for all of us to be spiritual and emotionally healthy. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Be merciful — forgive.

Giving is the essence of life and this essence of giving begins with God. Click To Tweet

Give — and it will be given back to you.

Giving is the essence of life and this essence of giving begins with God. He is in three persons — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  They share the glory of each other and enjoy other. They give. The Father glorifies the Son, the Son glorifies the Father, the Spirit glorifies the Father and the Son. Their lives of exchange and fellowship are the reason John declared, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8).

Beyond ‘I’ to Service

The sense of “I” in the world keeps people from coming to the God who is. He is so difficult to understand with human reason because human reason always seeks to satisfy self.  The devil, Lucifer, Satan, whatever name you apply to him, may have seen how the Godhead served each other and came up with a better concept in his heart. It is the concept of “I” — the No. 1 Big Guy. He said as much in Isaiah 14:14, announcing that he would be like the most High, but different.

For Lucifer, life at the top would be all about him. This is what he communicates to the human race as the prince and the power of the air. “Sow to yourself. Pump up yourself. Get what you deserve and make sure others get what they deserve.”

For God, it is all about another way. Christ walked among us as the One who serves. The One worthy of all praise, came to serve. He came to give. He asks us to give, to share the life He has given.

When we give, when we are generous, when we are merciful, we are released and free.

Let’s go back to Job. He kept crying to God; he kept pouring out his complaints. At last, God revealed Himself to Job and the result was something of a one-sided conversation. That is, God did all the talking. At the end of it, Job stood in awe of God and the relationship was deeper and wider and stronger. He prayed and his friends — so unhelpful — were forgiven.

Job went on to enjoy a life more prosperous and fruitful than before.

For more about the way of God in our lives, watch “Sober and Astonished” – a message from Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.

Steve Andrulonis

Steve Andrulonis

Spent more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering full-time ministry in 2006. He assists the Senior Pastor of Greater Grace, helps to manage church services, coordinates the Grace Hour radio broadcast, and teaches at Maryland Bible College and Seminary and Greater Grace Christian Academy.
Steve Andrulonis

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