Job

Mental Health: A Case Study on Job

I have fallen in love with the book of Job and all the layers of what seems to be two or three weeks of conversations involving God, Satan, Job, Job’s three friends, and my main man Elihu. Most people are familiar with the story of Job, but going through this tremendous book, the Lord has shown me so many things, specifically as it applies to mental health. Before we look at Job, let’s look at Job’s three friends, then Elihu.
Image result for job and his friends
The ministry of presence is a real thing, and we see it in Job 2. One of the best things that they did for him was just be around and mourn with him, not rush to say anything to Job, and just be with him. This is so critical for us to understand as we coming alongside friends and family who are going through, because more times than we realize, they rather than a response, they need presence. Just be there. Furthermore, they let Job speak first. They did not bust out the gate with questions or even “comforting” words. His friends allowed him to open up when he was ready. We must do the same. However…things took a turn.
His friends started off strong, but then bombed. They waited for Job to speak first, but didn’t listen, hurting him more on top of the pain he was already feeling. Job unapologetically poured his sorrow and anguish out to them and they responded to him saying it was his fault. Not a good idea. Job defended himself multiple times, but his friends were not sensitive, nor did they listen to what Job was trying to communicate to them. Granted, I believe that his friends genuinely wanted to help, but were relying on their own wisdom and understanding rather than God’s. Therefore, whenever we try to help, we must ask the Lord for discernment and direction so that we don’t make things worse and or come off arrogant and pious like Job’s friends. Although, any friendship or close relationship will have challenges, for even if we follow God and say and do what He tells us, it’s not unlikely that the other person won’t get upset with you. God’s truth is like a double-edged sword, so by nature, someone’s feelings will be hurt.
Furthermore, what I think was most hurtful is that not only were they not listening to Job, but they really thought the worst of him. It wasn’t even that they were speaking bad theology, but that it was executed so wrong. Furthermore, they were so closed-minded that they couldn’t even process the fact that all of what Job experienced had nothing to do with his sin; they had a very small and shallow view of God, which is why they considered him foolish. As a result, when your mental space is in a vulnerable place, be very careful of the people you allow to speak into your life, even if they do present Scripture, God may not actually be speaking to you through them.
Let’s look at Job’s mental status in all this.
Job was severely distressed, depressed, and though he wasn’t suicidal, he made it known that he wished he wasn’t and dreaded the day he was born. Job was not afraid to acknowledge his emotions and had a support system where he believed he could release. To engage in such a long conversation with his friends, it was obvious that they were close and that Job knew he needed help dealing with his pain. Whenever we go through, we have to acknowledge our pain and find a place to express it. If we ignore, deny, or suppress it, it makes it worse. Get help, even if you think you can handle it on your own, talk to someone you trust.
However, one of the mistakes Job made was allowing his friends to hear his personal prayer to God amidst their negative position. There is a reason we should have a “prayer closet”; it’s personal. God knows our hearts and His goal is not to condemn us nor to make us feel guilty, so it’s makes sense that Job was sure enough of his relationship with the Lord that he was not afraid to tell God how he felt toward Him, ask questions, and express his woes. He took his mask off before God; he was honest to God about all that was going on in his heart and mind. None of his wise friends understood exactly what was taking place.
Moreover, though Job was greatly depressed, overwhelmed, and felt completely alone, including his strained relationship with his wife, which he mentioned after the epic “curse God and die” scene, he never lost sight of who he was and who God is. Even though he was in the most unfavorable place, he knew it was not his fault and that God allowed these things to happen to him, but he couldn’t figure out why, yet he still worshiped.
To keep us from going over the edge, me must first recognize that whatever happens to us has been permitted by God, even if we don’t have any reasoning, and then worship and praise our way all the way through. Job remembered the sovereignty and power of God. Furthermore, he reminded his friends several times who God was and became frustrated with them, if not angry, and let them know more than once that he was not inferior to him and that their stance on his situation was wrong. He was secure in who he was, refusing to agree with what they were saying to him, so at one point he told them to shut up and leave him be with God, because by then they were useless (Nia’s version); he shamed them for being crappy friends several times. Needless to say, his friends did not like when he challenged their approach, which created most of the friction.
As we battle in our minds, our foundation in the Lord must remain firm, because our peace will flow when we are able to distinguish God’s voice from all others. If there is any disagreement in the voices we hear around us, choose God’s voice always, whether He is telling us to simply trust Him or He is humbling us, as He did with Job.
Job’s mistake was that his questioning of God became self-righteousness, which I believe was a deviation of his frustration and self-pity. He allowed his friends to focus so much on himself that he took his focus off God trying to prove his righteousness to them. In trying to defend his name, he made God out to be the bad guy as the dialogue continued. Nevertheless, his saving grace was his boldness to go before God and get the clarity he needed.
One of the biggest lessons we can take from Job to keep us from losing control mentally is to have such a relationship with God that we are not afraid to ask God big questions and be completely honest with the holy and righteous Creator of the universe. He boldly went to the throne repeatedly and expected God to respond at some point, which He did. God wants to know what’s on your heart and wants to converse with you. Share with Him all your cares, frustrations and uncertainties. Disclaimer – there are better ways to approach God than the way Job did, which made this last character in the story we will talk about so important.
My main man Elihu.
I wrote a blog on him previously, but his role in this narrative is vital. Elihu was the friend we all need. He listened, not for the sake of replying, like Job’s other three friends, but to truly understand their perspectives, proven by how he repeated what was said as he stated his points. He sat quietly for a while, but when God burdened his spirit he boldly opened his mouth, and he spoke the truth in love. He showed no partiality and refocused everyone’s on God. Elihu respected and honored who they were, and was not judgmental, condemning, or belittling, instead he was confident in the truth communicated to him by God. Furthermore, he shared his intentions with them before sharing his thoughts. Elihu is the hero of the story, because he indeed prepared the way for God to speak, since He made it clear God pays no mind to foolish talking like that which came from Job’s friends and then Job himself. God gracefully used Elihu to soften the heart of Job in order that he may properly receive what God wanted to directly say to him.
As we are in relationship with others who are battling in one way or another, we shouldn’t be afraid of the truth, rather speak it boldly in love, otherwise, we are doing a great disservice. If the truth that we communicate does not point back to Christ, then what we say is not truth as much as it is flattery or ignorance.
This is an incredible story that brings to life so many of the things we deal with daily. Job, Elihu, and his other three friends are personas that have manifested in our lives on I am sure multiple occasions. So much to glean and so much to learn that will influence out mental behavior if we allow it.
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Temptation

unbearableSo 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except which is common to man; but God who is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it.”

I actually heard Tony Evans speak on it not long ago. Long story short, this verse is used too often the wrong way. When people normally go through various trials or hardships, they quote this verse as motivation that they can get through. In a sense that’s good. Although, I think what people are missing is the word “temptation.” Paul specifically says that we won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear. That is to say that whatever the Devil could ever use to tempt you, there will never be a situation so compromising that you would not be able to resist the attempt of the enemy. That’s it. Still, if you are truly being tempted, you can overcome rather than succumb into falling into sin.

Nonetheless, in most cases when it is used, it’s as if life will never get so bad that we can’t bear it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. How many times have you or someone you know been in a situation that you honestly could say was unbearable, and this has nothing to do with being tempted. Just think of characters in the Bible like Job (Job 3:21; 6:9; 7:15-16), he lost everything and everyone in his life, apart from his friends, most of which didn’t help the situation at all. Do you think he could bear it? Or Jeremiah he almost lost in (Jeremiah 20), or Moses (Numbers 20) when he lost his cool dealing with the Israelites, or Paul (2 Corinthians 11:22-29; 12:7-8), or Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), or even Jesus (Luke 22:42). All these were great men of God, but they couldn’t handle it. So why should we think we will go through life with just situations that we can bear?

The truth of the matter, when we are put in those situations, God shows His awesome power and glory, and grace and mercy all the more. When we get to those unbearable times in life, He wants to prove that He can. As we face those situations, God’s purpose is to show us how much we truly need Him; He never meant for you to bear the unbearable alone (Matthew 11:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9). So I encourage you, if you are going through something you can’t bear, that’s okay. Why? God can, so lean on Him, cry out to Him, and hold on to Him, because your life hear and after depends on Him.

It’s Been a While

Oh my!!! It’s been so long since I’ve posted and I actually have things to finish writing. On top of that so much has been going on, so many emotions, many tears, many prayers, many smiles, good days, long days, productive days, and lazy days. I’ve been in the studio, broken a phone, lost a friend and realized how much of  a friend I had in someone else; I’ve encountered evil spirits when I was sent to pray them out of an apartment. I’ve been sick, hoarse, bitten, challenged, and put in the hot seat. I’ve learned that beating around the bush 9 times out of 10 helps no one, so in situations, I’m striving to be less passive. I’ve meet two celebrities, and learned how to do love knots, bantu knots, comb and finger coils, french braids, and 2-strand flat twist. I’ve been studying the book of Job in the Bible and it’s blown my mind and sometime soon I’ll share what I’ve learned. It’s just awesomeness. Likewise, I’m apart of the study of Jonah as created by an aspiration of mine, Priscilla Shirer, and yeah she’s awesome. “Navigating a Life Interrupted,” loving it.

Yet, for the sake of this post, I’ll talk about what I’ve learned just today. In the Priscilla Shirer study actually, in the book she questioned our place in life. This assumed that in some way or another coinciding with the “life interrupted,” we may not be in a place we thought we’d be in or what we may be doing may not be as grand as we imagined. Nonetheless it made me think of the verse Matthew 25:21:

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

In my life now, as I’m sure many of us are we are quite where we wanted to be, or where we thought we’d be, not forgetting God totally debunked your original plan. Still, even if we yielded and are in God’s will, like me, have the urge to go out and do more and reach more. Yet, for some reason you are home; you aren’t going out to the masses; your territory grown maybe and inch; you may not be getting the calls that you thought you would by now. When this verse came to mind, I was immediately humbled. God has me where He has me for whatever purpose, and if one thing is for sure my patience and faith is being stretched. As I read in James 1:3-4, I’ll be in this spot until His work is completed in my patience and perseverance.

So, in enduring during this interesting time of my life, no matter how much I want to explore and leave and force my dreams to come true by midnight tonight, and meet so many new people, I have to be faithful to where God has placed me, at this very moment, using and developing the gifts and talents He gave me. He promised me that if I am, my oh my, He’ll entrust me with so much more. His work in my life in this stage isn’t complete but when it is…well you’ll just have to see ;)…Ironically though I am scared out my mind, but I know He is with me.

Genie

god_the_genie

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

When Job exclaimed this to his wife, he had just lost all his wealth, his home, all of his children, his health, and to top it off, his wife was giving him the third degree, adding more fire to the flame. Yet, Job kept his focus on God. He didn’t at all see His purpose, but he knew God’s heart and sovereignty above all else. This is not to say he wasn’t upset or disheartened by all that had happened, rather Job understood the greatness and holiness of God. Job lost everything, but his heart understood that,

“naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In the same way, especially after talking to a friend of mine, some of us think God is a genie. We think He’ll just give us what we want when we want it, and that life will be honky dorie once we enter a relationship with Christ. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In this walk with Christ, we are promised suffering, hurt, disappointment, and despair, although, there will be the good days. Still, we have to expect and accept the terrible nights as well. Any good relationship is about weathering through the storms. Where does your relationship lie? Jesus is in it for the long haul…Are You?

But I won’t leave you in fear or anxiety, because it will be worth it. Jesus said he would always be with us, he said he would meet our every need, David even said he will give you the desires of your heart, and it was Paul who said:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

…Amen