I am not the person who picks up poetry to read fireside. I remember studying some in English class, but it was more confusing than inspiring. Poetry is a form of art that uses words to stir emotion and express deep, sometimes dark, feelings in a way that invites others to join in an emotional experience.
In the Bible, there are five books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. It is important to read these books as one would read any poetry, understanding the expressions are not to be taken literally, but figuratively.
In my reading yesterday, this passage stood out to me from the book of Job.
14“One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty. 15My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring 16when it is swollen with ice and melting snow. 17But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears. The brook vanishes in the heat. 18The caravans turn aside to be refreshed, but there is nothing to drink, so they die. 19The caravans from Tema search for this water; the travelers from Sheba hope to find it. 20They count on it but are disappointed. When they arrive, their hopes are dashed. 21You, too, have given no help.Job 6:14-21
Job expresses his dismay for his friend’s lack of compassion in a metaphorical manner. He found them to be available and helpful when life was going well. But when the heat of trials came along, their friendship was not a comfort to him. It did not provide refreshment to his weary soul.
I understand Job’s picture quite well. Living on a river that overflowed with the spring thaws and receded with summer heat, I easily picture the scene he paints. It helps me to understand Job’s angst with his friends, the disappointment he felt when they accused him of wrong doing.
I am challenged to consider what type of friend I am to others. Do I accuse rather than affirm? Am I apathetic (without feeling) or empathic (sharing the feeling) with others? How can I provide the refreshment others need and desire?
How about you? What type of friend are you? Are you available when all is going well but disappear when the heat turns up? How can you provide refreshment for someone today?