“…Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” – James 5:11
Does it not seem strange that as an example of God’s pity, James offers Job’s story? I can think of other instances in Scripture where God or Jesus had compassion on someone in need, and more to the point, someone whose need was not a direct result God intervening in his or her seemingly tranquil life. I’ve heard preachers say, “Job got in trouble because God bragged on him!” (Job 1:6-8). And it does seem that way. But, of course, you and I have the advantage of hindsight. We know the end of the story. We have “seen the end of the Lord.” We know that “the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12); and it wasn’t just materially and physically. As Job himself witnessed “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). But, as I say, while he was in the throes of his great trial of faith, God must have seemed anything but “pitiful” to him.
By the way, don’t get hung-up on the word “pitiful,” any more than “careful” in Philippians four six. It means just what it says: full of pity, as the great old hymn of the Church says, “Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love, and grace.” As with so many of our English words, we have added meanings, but Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines it best: “Full of pity; tender; compassionate; having a heart to feel sorrow and sympathy for the distressed. [This is the proper sense of the word.]”
And truly, that is our God! Isaiah says of Him and His relationship to His children, Israel: “In all their affliction he was afflicted…in his pity he redeemed them…” (Isa. 63:9). King David tells us, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psl. 103:13). You and I, as Blood-bought children of God, have a Heavenly Father whose pity is akin to that of an earthly father, but without it’s human limitations. It is unwavering, inexhaustible, and unfathomable. We have no redeeming qualities, yet He redeemed us. When He allows pain, grief, and sorrow, He wipes away our tears with His very presence. And if He still had the tears of His earthly Body, He would weep along with us, as He did at Lazarus’ grave.
I am so thankful that my God is “very pitiful.” I need that kind of pity. I may be undeserving, but because of Calvary, I’m eligible. There is no pity like His. What a comfort…what a God…and what a pity!