Jump Start # 2223
Job 10:1 “I loathe my life; I will give full vent to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”
Several years ago a book entitled “Tuesday with Morrie” detailed the friendship between a writer and a dying cancer patient. Instead of Tuesday with Morrie, we are doing Monday with Job. I’m teaching Life Lessons from Job on Sunday mornings. On Monday, I share some of the things we talked about.
Last Monday, we contrasted how open, honest and raw Job is. In fact, the two sentences that Job’s wife speaks are like this as well. Our verse today is another example of Job’s honesty. “I loathe my life,” boils down to “I hate my life.” Gone are precious memories. Gone are blessings. What remains are the cold reality of suffering inside and out. Hurting in his body, and hurting in his soul, Job sees no value in these things.
We are not so honest as Job was. We hide our feelings. We tend to wear masks. That was our Jump Start last Monday. Some have worn masks for so long, that they do not know how they really feel. Being honest is hard. It leaves us open, vulnerable and often alone. Others may not agree nor share the feelings that we have. Being honest is often admitting that things are not working. Being honest is hard because we live in a world and a culture in the church where wearing masks is expected. We don’t know what to say or do when someone comes in Sunday morning and they admit that they “Hate their life.” We not only are not prepared to handle that, we don’t want to hear that. So, as folks enter the church building, one by one, they put on their masks so that everyone seems just fine.
It is the honest heart that will do better with the Lord than the mask wearer. The honest heart knows what’s going on. The mask wearer covers up problems. The honest heart will seek help, pray and realizes that things need to change. The mask wearer continues on in the land of make believe. In the parable of the sower it was the honest and good heart that received the word of God and grew.
How do we take off our masks? That was our study yesterday. Removing the masks. Here’s the steps:
- Realize that we are all on this journey together and we really need each other. One thing masks do is keep others at a distance from what I truly need. We need Jesus and we need each other.
- We all suffer in different ways. Because of masks and because of the nature of some suffering, we may never see nor realize how others suffer. Some physically. Some emotionally. Some spiritually. Some because of personal battles. Some because of family troubles. Some because of the way others have treated them. We all suffer, we just don’t see that. We believe we are the only one going through things and for that reason we feel compelled to put on a mask so we fit in with others.
- People want to help. What they do may not change things but it shows that they care. James 5 reveals that the one who is hurting is to reach out. He is to call for the elders. Wearing masks keeps us from doing that.
- Wearing masks builds fences that keep people away. We build those fences with our pride. We don’t want to be a bother. We don’t want others to know. We don’t need anyone. That pride isn’t good. That pride keeps people at a distance and it makes our fellowship shallow and empty.
- The way that God often answers our prayers and helps us is through other people. God sent people to refresh Paul’s spirit. God sent Titus to encourage the depressed Paul. If we keep people at a distance and continue to wear our masks, often the very help that we need is kept at bay. We want God to remove problems. What the Lord often does is to send people to encourage, teach, and help us.
- Love involves taking risks. This is true in dating and this is true in fellowship. Someone might misunderstand. Someone might say something inappropriate. Someone might judge. But, then, someone might be a real help. Someone might show just how much they truly love. Someone might share their experiences which is exactly what I am going through at the moment. Taking off your mask is risking, but it’s worth it.
- We must stop assuming the worst about others and give them a chance. One reason we wear masks is to hide how we feel from others. We don’t want others to know. We do this because we don’t want a lecture. We don’t want guilt. We don’t want them judging us. We think taking off our masks will be a horrible experience. I’ve found that it brings freedom, peace and true love. We keep our masks on because we just know it will be an ugly experience if we take them off.
- We must understand that in many ways we are falsely judging the motives and intentions of brethren by assuming they will only make things worse. Stop thinking the worst. Step up to the golden rule. Don’t judge everyone by the bad experience of one person.
Some are doing well. They are happy. They are content. Life is good for them. Sometimes they feel compelled to wear a mask because if they are too happy around others, that’s not accepted. How sad. We need to be ourselves. The culture of the American male today is a mask wearer. He is to never cry. He is to find his own way. He never reaches out for help. Self made. Independent. Superman. This image is nothing more than a mask. Many men have no one close enough to them to really be honest with. Certainly they know others in the church and they can tease and talk sports and best places to find something to eat, but to remove masks, men don’t do that. This includes many of us preachers. We continue to tell others and try to convince ourselves that everything is fine and the work in the kingdom is going great, even to the day the moving truck shows up to move us to another city. Masks—they fit so well and they look so good on us. But what they do is keep us for getting help that we need. We suffer because we will not allow anyone to know.
Taking off your mask is scary. It’s risky. We tell ourselves it’s not a good idea and it may backfire. But before certain spiritual people, it can be one of the best things we ever do. We want others to take their masks off first, and they are waiting on you to take yours off. So, the masks remain.
I hate my life, is what Job said. Not the words that many of us want to hear, but it’s honest and it gives someone a starting point to begin mending a wounded heart. If we wear masks around each other, we must wonder if we do the same with God. Honest in our prayers is how we begin to take our masks off.