Day 006: The Patience of Job, and the Impatience of Zophar (Job 10-13)

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

“Should a multitude of words go unanswered,
    and a man full of talk be judged right?
Should your babble silence men,
    and when you mock, shall no one shame you?

Job 11:1-3

we often hear about “the patience of Job,” But this morning I was convicted about the impatience of Zophar, one of Job’s friends.

As I read Zophar’s response to Job’s third cycle of complaints, I noticed that Job’s friends seem to be getting more and more impatient and aggravated with him the more he complains.

They started off tentative, walking on eggshells, worried that they are going to say something offensive. But as days pass and there seems to be no breakthrough, the gloves come off, the niceties fall away, and the frustration comes out. You see it with how “in your face” Zophar is in his response. I love the heading in my ESV Bible: “Zophar Speaks: “You Deserve Worse.”

I have an ugly truth to admit as a pastor: I’m not nearly as nice as you think I am. I start off full of compassion and concern for someone. I listen well. I pray fervently. But as time goes on and the situation doesn’t improve (or gets worse) my compassion can turn to aggravation.

I find myself groaning inwardly when I see a call from a particular number. I brace myself when someone makes a beeline for me on Sunday morning, because I know they are going to want to talk to me about everything that is going on with them, right up until the moment the first song starts.

Maybe its a reaction against feeling helpless. Nobody wants to feel like they can’t solve a problem. The helplessness first wearies, then irritates, then repels. Caregivers become callous. I’ll start going to a different door at the end of the service if I know “that guy” exits on the other side of the building.

How did you do it, Lord? How do you patiently hear the prayers of everyone in the world, when I lose patience with the prayers of one congregation? I want to be more like you, and less like Zophar.

If there is one prayer to pray over your pastor, pray that his heart stays tender toward those who are suffering without relief. Pray that as the Lord renews His mercies to us every morning, our mercy toward others would be renewed.

Author: James

I pastor Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama. I read a lot, write a little, and drink lots of coffee. I have three callings in life: surrender to Christ, be a husband to Trish, and be the best father/grandfather I can be. Everything else is an assignment, because everything else can be done by someone else.

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