I believe that there comes a time in each and everyone’s life that they reach a breaking point – the point where you find yourself saying, or thinking, “I cannot take this anymore!” The stress of strife and trials can pile upon us and become too unbearable for us to handle. And for some of us, reaching the breaking point occurs more than just once in our lives.
Everyone is subjected to stress at one time or another, it’s a way of life. The normal everyday stress that we all go through is not what I’m talking about here. Pretty much every person that I know can experience a bad day where the boss at work piles on some unrealistic expectations, the co-worker says or does something thoughtless, the traffic is bad and another driver cuts you off, the lines are long at the store, one of your children gets in trouble at school, something breaks at the house, etc. Those things happen to us frequently enough. We may be a little grumpy for a while, but soon enough we get over it.
Then there’s times where stress is chronic, it keeps building up and up and up and there’s no relief in sight. It seems to me that it starts out as some insignificant thing sort of like the drip of a faucet, not too noticeable at first. But the drip keeps coming and you begin to notice that drip, drip, drip. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to get that faucet to stop dripping. You try ignoring the drip, but that doesn’t work. All you can hear is the drip, and you cannot think about anything else. Pretty soon, you can’t take it anymore.
When a particular stressor is emotional, or physical, in nature. It takes a toll on you. And, if you live with that stress long enough it will effect the way that you think, the way that you feel, and the way that you react. You may erupt with anger. You may become depressed. You may not be able to eat. You may not be able to sleep. There’s no relief in sight. You feel like you cannot even catch your breath. You feel like the weight of the world is resting upon your shoulders. And you feel as if God has turned His back on you.
When it feels like the world is closing in on someone who is under immense stresses, even the most faithful can lose hope. The Old Testament story of Job presents a picture of someone who has lost hope. He’s suffering in the most unimaginable way. His wealth, his home, his children, and his health are all gone. He’s reduced to sitting in the ashes. He’s had one tragedy after another, and another, and another. He suffers from insomnia, and when he is able to get a bit of sleep, it’s plagued by nightmares. The attacks were relentless. It’s safe to say that Job reached the breaking point. All Job wants is relief, and there’s no relief in sight. Job doesn’t understand what is happening to him, and worse yet, he doesn’t understand why it’s happening. And, Job cries out.
Job may have felt weak, but actually Job is strong. He’s fighting with things that we all fight with, except his fight is much larger than any fight I’ve ever experienced. Job cuts to the chase, and he states what’s on his mind. He displays his honest emotions about his situation and doesn’t try to gloss over the situation. He knows that God is so much bigger, and Job knows that he can pour out all of his feelings honestly to God. And Job does just that. “How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?” (Job 7:19, ESV) Job doesn’t feel like God has turned His back on him, in fact Job feels like God has focused all of his attention and wrath upon Job. All Job wants at this time is to be able to catch his breath, and at this point I think that Job would welcome God turning His back on Job.
I don’t think that I would be able to withstand the kind of brutal treatment to which Satan subjected Job. We all get attacked in this life. But when I am attacked, I need to remember Job, and I need to turn to Job. In the book of Job, the Bible gives me a model on how I can lament (express my grief and sorrow). It shows me that I can be honest with God, that I can grapple with those things that I don’t understand. It tells me that it is okay to question God. When I reach my breaking point, the story of Job is a place where I can rest, get insight, and draw wisdom. I can make Job’s lament into my lament. I can pray over treasured verses and Psalms. I remember that on the cross even my Savior Jesus questioned, and felt abandoned by, God. And, I learn most of all, that this season will pass. I will emerge from the darkness and back into the light. God is faithful, He will never abandon me.
Psalm 77, ESV
1 I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search:
7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.