Updated: Mar 13, 2021
What does it look like for God to regenerate a life?
That's what I asked myself several weeks ago when I found myself reading a passage in Job that I'd never seen before:
You will forget your misery;
it will be like water flowing away.
Your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Even darkness will be as bright as morning.
Having hope will give you courage.
You will be protected and will rest in safety.
You will lie down unafraid,
and many will look to you for help.
Job 11: 16-19 NLT
The word's of God's promise leapt off of the page.
You will forget your misery...
I wondered, what does it look like for God to cause a person to forget their misery?
My Pastor often taught us about the 4 levels of interpreting scripture, known through the acronym PRDS (or Pardes):
P'shat - Simple; the literal interpretation of the text; this is the basic and most simplest meaning
Remez - Hint; implied meaning of the text that is deeper than the P'shat basic meaning. It is taking the text that may be specific (for instance to keeping fair balances and scales Proverbs 20:10) and considering if the meaning is implied to other areas (i.e. fairness in all areas of life and business)
D'resh - Search; this is when you search other scriptures of similar word usage or theme to gain context into the original text. This also involves outside research like finding the original meaning of Hebrew of Greek words, read commentaries and study historical documents
Sod - Hidden; finally there is sod, or revelation. This comes to our souls through diligent reading of the word (pashat), study of the word (remez) and investigations into the text (deresh) as well as meditating on the word.
Of course Holy Spirit can fast track us through stages whenever He chooses, but each of these are tools in our arsenal for rightly dividing the word for ourselves in our daily study .
Back to my story.
I decided to do some deresh, or searching to discover the original meaning of key words found in Job 10.
forget (SHAKACH. Hebrew) - to be oblivious of for lack of memory or attention; to cease to care; to be forgotten
misery (AMAL, Hebrew) - 1. toil, trouble, labor
2. heavy, wearisome labor; sorrow or anguish of soul; vexation, travail
AMAL is something very grievous and burdensome to bear on the soul. Not something physically heavy, but something that is an emotional load.
I suppose one has to have experienced the toil of AMAL to appreciate the hope of a promise from God that He will cause us to forget misery.
People can use all types of things to help them to forget things they would rather not remember. Zone out on Netflix/TV, work, exercise, porn, sex, food, hallucinogenic drugs, relationships, social media. All can be forms of coping that distract us from remembering and/or re-experiencing the pain of an event.
I know I've used food and work frequently as coping mechanisms for pain.
Anguish of soul is no small thing.
Often it is not the event that is most painful, but the frequent and at times uncontrollable memories that play in our minds, on repeat that brings the most damage. Disentangling our emotions from a memory can be one of the greatest challenges that keep us from moving on.
SHAKACH means to become oblivious or ignorant to a thing by lack of familiarity with it. Like a memory that is forgotten by lack of use of neuropathways to access that thought.
So what struck me is God was promising, 'I will step in. I will be the reason you forget." I can even imagine God rewiring the pathways in your brain causing you to no longer find the way to access even your most painful days of your life.
This is very different from dissociation.. from denial... from coping and numbing the pain. It is God Himself stepping in and soothing our souls.
We Christians call Jesus our Savior, but I wonder how much do we really understand the redemptive power of the cross?
The power of redemption is to take the horrific, the painful and the traumatizing and supernaturally transform those very materials (or perhaps even memories) into something life-giving for others.
That fateful night several weeks ago sent me on a treasure hunt into the scriptures for tangible promises God can give to those experiencing affliction of soul. Over the next couple of articles, we will examine what restoration and redemption in our lives may look like through studying accounts of several bible greats.