Job’s world had fallen apart. His loss was comprehensive - his children, his wealth, his health and his standing in the community all vanished. The only people who remained were his wife (who told him to curse God and die) and his four “friends” who could only accuse him of bringing God’s judgment on himself. While the friends defended God against him, Job kept pouring out his heart in anguish with cries like the following (19:7-12):

Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered;
    I call for help, but there is no justice.
He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass,
    and he has set darkness upon my paths.
He has stripped from me my glory
    and taken the crown from my head.
10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
    and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.
11 He has kindled his wrath against me
    and counts me as his adversary.
12 His troops come on together;
    they have cast up their siege ramp against me
    and encamp around my tent.

And yet, God says to the friends at the end, “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7 – emphasis mine). When we are in crisis and God seems absent, Job demonstrates the importance of continuing to speak what is right – truth that expresses the agony of own condition, and yet reaffirms the truth of who God is.

Unhealthy Response to Crisis

Crises can affect ourselves or those we love, including serious health conditions, death, divorce, employment and financial difficulties. There are many unhealthy ways we can respond to God and others in crisis:

Stuffing it down

If someone has a nail embedded in their arm, they can choose to leave it there, wrapping bandages around it and taking painkillers so it will be less noticeable. Inevitably, it will become infected and the pain will increase so no amount of painkillers will numb it, and the health effects will spread to the rest of the body. Similarly, the pain caused by crisis will only increase if ignored, and will ultimately cause more damage to the person and those around them.

This is also a thoroughly unbiblical response. From Job to the Psalms of David, from Lamentations to Paul’s defense of his ministry in 2 Corinthians 10-12, the Bible is full of strong emotional expression in the face of crisis. In fact, the one who spills the most ink in the bible expressing emotion in crisis is God himself! Before and during the exile of his people to Babylon, God shows his anger and grief as well as his love and concern for his people through the prophets.

Rationalizing or Spiritualizing

Similarly, by attempting to avoid the intense grief and anger associated with crises, we can distance ourselves from these emotions through rationalization – coldly recounting the realities of the situation to ourselves, others and God. Christians can also do this by spiritualizing, giving simplistic, misleading or flat out wrong responses like, “God did this for a good reason.” Job’s friends are the primary examples of those who responded to crisis this way, and they were soundly rebuked by God for it!


When we are angry or grieving, it is never OK to vent our anger on our friends, spouses or children – abusing those that we love will only add more damage to the crisis. As we see from the passage above, Job was angry with God and he expressed this to him, but the writer of Job also made clear that he never sinned against God by what he said. God may be tough enough to take our rage, but he is also our Lord and we do not use him as a punching bag.

Responding to Crisis

Job spoke the truth of his own miserable condition and of his confusion and anger towards God, and he kept expressing this again and again. Through journaling and prayer, it is important to keep coming to God, even if all you can say to him is “Why?!” or How could you?!” Do not expect any simplistic answers from him.

It is also important to stay engaged with Christian community and be vulnerable with a few people. God may seem silent or distant, but he often cares for us most deeply through the love we experience from other believers. Job’s friends were ultimately horrible examples of what can happen when you share your heart with others, so look for those who can model the stunning care the friends showed when they first encountered Job. They wept, tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads, and sat with him on the ground for an entire week without saying anything. The best friends may be the ones who can simply be with you and care for you without having any answers.

Finally, while we need to speak the truth of our grief and anger, it is also important to speak the truth of who God is. David often begins a Psalm by expressing grief or concern, and yet by the end of the Psalm, he is recognizing the strength, faithfulness, forgiving and redeeming character of God who will save him. When Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he was quoting the introduction to Psalm 22. In this Psalm of David, he is overwhelmed by those who surrounded him and wanted him dead, and yet throughout he recognizes God who has created him, heard him and will save him. Speak the truth of who God is in crisis, and even in the midst of your pain you can say:

22I will tell of your name to my brothers;
  in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
  All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
   the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
   but has heard, when he cried to him.

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