Tag Archives: Assumption

I Wonder if Love Isn’t the Best Defense

Superman Band-AidOh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Job 11:5-6a (NIV)

I remember a young man with whom I went to school. It was the 1980s. While most of us were accenting our permed mullets with parachute pants and Forenza sweaters as we carried our Jansport backpacks to class, this well cropped young man was wearing a three piece suit and carrying his Samsonite briefcase. He was a firebrand. Always speaking from a well entrenched position of know-it-all-ness, he seemed to have assumed the role of God’s attorney. His truth was God’s truth and he was ready to make his case whether you wanted to hear it or not.

I thought of my classmate this morning as I read the treatise of Job’s third friend, Zophar, who finally speaks up. He’s heard Eliphaz and Bildad have a go at Job, and he’s heard Job’s responses. Zo’s soliloquy starts off like a boiling pot blowing its top. Zo seems to feel the need to defend God from Job’s word. Like my friend from school, he takes on the role of God’s attorney, speaking on behalf of the Almighty.

What I find most interesting in Zophar’s message is that he is at once chastising Job for assuming he knows the mind of God and making the same assumptions about Job. Like his other two amigos, Zo speaks from an assumptive position of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Job has done something sinful to deserve God’s wrath and punishment.

I have to be honest. When I ponder Job’s friends, I not only think of my briefcase toting friend, but I also see shades of myself 30 years ago. The further I get in my own personal life journey the less passionate I feel about defending God with my words and the more passionate I feel about simply representing Him with my loving actions. Zophar asks Job if he thinks he can fathom the mysteries of God, and I am increasingly comfortable with the fact that I cannot.

This morning, I’m thinking about what I would do or say if I were one of Job’s friends, sitting with my buddy on the ash heap. The truth is, I’m not sure I would try to make sense of it. I would tell Job I love him. I’d admit that I don’t get it either, and I would apologize that I don’t have any answers. Then, I’d ask if there’s anything I can get him to ease his suffering. A cup of cold water, perhaps. Some Superman Band-Aids for those sores? Maybe telling a bad joke or two in an effort to coax a smile. It still falls short of meeting the depth of Job’s need, but I feel like it comes closer than what I’ve seen from Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

Assumptions, Miscommunication, and Conflict

source: loonatic via Flickr
source: loonatic via Flickr

“But this is what you concealed in your heart,
    and I know that this was in your mind….”
Job 10:13 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago I sat with my daughter and we had a very frank discussion about life and relationship. We talked about a myriad of things. It was one of those intense and emotional conversations that, once it is over, is hard to recall in anything but bits and pieces. It was time to clear the relational air over which a fog has existed for some time. I recognized that it was a conversation that happens to provide clarity and definition between parent and child when a child is transforming into an adult.  It wasn’t a pleasant conversation, though I believe that it was both healthy and necessary. Clearing the air is sometimes a prerequisite to making progress in life. It provides necessary focus to answer the questions:

  • “Where have I/we been?”
  • “Where am I/are we at?”
  • “Where am I/are we going?”

In the midst of this event I was reminded of a truth I’ve come to realize and embrace along life’s journey. Most conflicts can be traced back to miscommunication. The miscommunication can be an incorrect assumption about what another person thinks, believes, or perceives. The miscommunication can be confusion over the meaning and intent of something that was said. The miscommunication can be confusion over what was said and what was heard. Conflict can almost always be traced back to miscommunication.

I was struck this morning as I read Job’s diatribe how many assumptions he makes in his conflict with God:

  • “But this is what you concealed in your heart” (I know what God thinks)
  • “I know that this was in your mind” (I know the mind of God)
  • “If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion” (I know God’s intention)
  • “You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me” (I know that my sufferings are an execution of your misdirected justice)

That’s a lot of assumptions to make, especially about the Almighty.

Today, I’m thinking about my own penchant for making assumptions about what others think, believe, intend, and feel. I am seeking forgiveness for my foolish pride, which motivates and is at the root of such assumptions. I am seeking to make a little progress in the area of actually communicating with others rather than assuming I know what is in their hearts and on their minds.