What a contrast between two of my readings this morning. Job is overwhelmed by his many sores, his mental anguish, and his miserable comforters, and so says, “Surely now God has worn me out” (Job 16:7a). Mary, on the other hand, is overcome as she sees Martha serving while Lazarus is reclining, and so responds with over-the-top, extravagant sacrifice (John 12:1-3). Job’s face is red with weeping (16:16). Mary’s house is filled with the fragrance of worship.
To be worn out. To be worshiping. That’s what I’m hovering over this morning. At first it seems to form a continuum with worn out on one end and worship on the other. Each lying opposite to the other. But as I chew on it a bit I realize it’s anything but a continuum. You can be worn out yet worshiping.
Job didn’t know up from down. All he heard from his comforters was, “Blah, blah, blah!” And what he heard from heaven was nothing. No reason for God’s seeming determination to turn His wrath upon Job (16:9). No explanation as to why God had abandoned him to the ungodly (16:11). No clue as to God’s apparent resolve to break him with breach upon breach (16:14). Heaven was silent, God was nowhere to be found.
Mary’s world was so right. A sister doing what she did best, showing hospitality. A brother who, given that he was doing anything at all, was a living, breathing miracle beyond miracles. Once he was dead–literally dead . . . four days in the tomb dead–and now he was alive. And in their midst, was Jesus.. Heaven manifest in the flesh. God in the room.
Job could do nothing but sigh at the footstool of heaven. Mary was compelled to break open the best and anoint the feet of Jesus. Job had nothing but questions. Mary gave everything without question. And yet there is a connection between Job’s despair and Mary’s delight.
“Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.” ~ Job
(Job 16:19 ESV)
Even in his confusion Job was confident that he had an advocate in heaven. Though heaven was silent, Job was never in doubt that heaven wasn’t unaware. He had a witness. He believed there was an intercessor, an advocate. He longed to know the mediator who could place his hand on both Job and God and plead Job’s case (Job 9:33). His miserable comforters had not spoken on his behalf, but he longed for a heaven-sent friend who would.
That friend sat around the table in Bethany while Martha served, Lazarus reclined, and Mary worshiped. Heaven’s divine Advocate was being made perfect by fully entering into the human experience on earth (Heb. 4:14-16). He too would know great suffering though He did nothing to deserve it. He too would experience heaven’s silence and know God’s back (Matt 27:46).
And having been worn out, He would also worship. He would offer His body as a living sacrifice. He would pour out His life, as Mary had poured out her perfume, as a sweet smelling aroma to heaven — the offering of atonement to end all offerings of atonement.
And He would rise from dead. Defeating despair. He would ascend to heaven. Taking His place as our forever High Priest, seated at the right hand of God, “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25, 8:1). Infusing hope and renewal in times of confusion and silence.
And so, even when we’re worn out there is worship. In the silence reflecting on those times when we have sat around the table like the siblings in Bethany. Such memories sustaining us in times of trouble and reminding us of our Witness in heaven. Confident that there is One who testifies on our behalf on high.
“Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.