Altered Perception

Journal Entry // December 25, 2022

Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me! (ESV)

Job 19:21

In this early part of Job 19, we can see the inner turmoil that adversity and suffering have caused in the mind of Job. He speaks first of a wall that has been built up around him. Not the wall of protection that he had prior to his suffering, but a wall that keeps him hedged into his troubles. On top of this, Job exposes his inner thinking as he recounts how all of his relationships have been affected by his suffering. He shares the depth of his perceived isolation and the skewed understanding of how he is viewed by everyone around him. It may be true that what he is relaying about these broken relationships has a ring of truth in the social circles of the culture at the time, but it is also reasonable that Job is merely unable to rightly view and understand this new dynamic in his depressed state of mind. As I read through this section of Job and I see his anguish over lost relationships and the perceived hurt and disdain that he is receiving from those closest to him, I see my own thoughts of hurt and pain. I remember my own isolation and how it affected my view and outlook on all of my relationships.

This is the danger we all face when we go through a time of suffering and adversity. The danger of isolation. I know that in my most recent struggle, this was (and honestly still clings to me a bit) the centerpiece of my difficulty. When the world around me crashed in and those walls of protection had been removed and I was exposed both to myself and to others, then the enemy of my soul came in and laid upon my self-conscious heart the need for isolation and separation. This was the very thing that I did not need in my life at that moment. Everything in my brain told me that I needed to isolate. Much like Adam and Eve in the garden after they ate the fruit. I too felt ashamed and wanted to hide from not only God but anyone and everyone. I wanted to separate and keep myself free from their judging eyes.

This is the lie I told myself anyway. I actively withdrew from everyone, but in my mind, it was simple to turn that around and push the blame onto others for not reaching out to me or meeting me where I was in my moment of weakness and need. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I myself had turned away from everyone and had turned my focus inward. For it is in this isolation that the lies of the enemy take root, twist my thoughts, and alter my vision. As my eyes are turned inward, I only see the effect of the adversity and struggle upon myself. I lose sight of the most important thing, Jesus. In my isolation and hiding from God, I neglect the only solution and cure. I forget the One who loves me and cares for me completely.

This is where Job lands during his discourse in chapter 19. After he laments his isolation and how everyone has left him, he turns to the One who never leaves and never forsakes. He says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.” This phrase captures all that I need to remember in my struggles. When I feel the necessity and temptation to isolate, this beautiful phrase calls me back to reality. No matter what deception may have captured my mind and no matter what depth of isolation I may be steeped in, there is still a simple calling from the Lord to remember the truth. “For I know” is a reminder that this is not something new that has to be learned and discovered. This truth is already ingrained within me. I only need to remind myself and recall it in freshness to the forefront of my thoughts. And what is this truth? That Jesus is alive and that he has conquered sin and death. That his grace and mercy cover me completely. That there is no need to hide and isolate. I am to run to him in my guilt and shame. I am to come to him for forgiveness and cleansing. It is exactly in this moment of dirtiness that Jesus came to die for me. I don’t have to clean myself up first to draw near to him. I need only come to him as I am with a humble and repentant heart. A heart that realizes it is incapable of fulfilling the demands of the law. A heart that looks to my Savior who has conquered sin and defeated the enemy. The One who has redeemed me from the world of adversity and suffering. The One who calls me to draw near to him and find rest and comfort in his ever-present grace and mercy and love.

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