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Week 5 January 2024, Impromptu Devotion

For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are… Hebrews 4:15


“I know just how you feel!” We are rightfully dubious about shallow professions of sympathy. Yet we are touched by the sincerity of the kind soul who gives our hand a quick squeeze when we are hurting. He or she far exceeds in maturity and popularity the Christian backslapper who weighs in with the cheery advice to leave everything to the Lord and everything will be just fine and dandy. With that kind of empathy we can bleed to death right under the person’s nose. Life is constantly dealing in surprises. Some we handle better than others. Taxes, illness, and death come to us all. No matter how stressful, those lend themselves to honest sharing with others. In that process strength and comfort are gained all around.


Some surprises are shockers. What of the sudden attraction to a shapely neighbor? What of the drink that unexpectedly has become a necessity if we are to survive our job? What of the bruise inflicted on the baby’s flailing arm when his crying enraged us? What of the time we borrowed money from petty cash and before we could quietly replace it, someone else had been accused of stealing? Add to the list of “Christian surprises” the urge to shoplift and the horror of sexual abuse. Picture every evil known to mankind and try saying, “I know just how you feel.” We either become liars or judges.

Jesus, the Bible says, did not trust Himself to those who had begun to believe on His name, “because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man” ( John 2:24-25). Will we believe Him? Or did the cross in vain visit on Him the wretched pain of our private hell? The hurters and healers in the church must touch base at Calvary before we can legitimately and lovingly feel for each other. (Hebrews 4:14-5:10)


Comment: I wrote this piece ages ago and “borrowed” it from my devotional book  because I think it still has merit.  Oddly, I also remember the kind soul insisting I eat mashed canned asparagus DAILY to cure my breast cancer. The mental gag reflex is still with me.  More strangely still, the very Eliphaz who gave Job such a hard time, proved to be useful.  A favorite verse from Psalm 97 – “Light is sown like seed for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” - listed Job 22:28 as cross-reference.  “You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and light will shine on your ways.”  The word “decree” stood out and even more so, when Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance established that out nearly 50 OT references, in this text it is unique and found nowhere else. Personal experience concurs with a Bible scholar’s comment, “When we decree and declare according to God’s Word, we operate in our dominion authority and activating our power.”  This is only biblically legitimate if we read verses 22-30 for proper context.  Jesus said He came as the Light of the World to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).  The “decree” of Job 22:28 can also mean “destroy.” 

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