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COLUMN: Coming to the end of your rope

Lt. Scott B. Swires, Rome Salvation Army co-commanding officer
Posted 2/5/23

The funny thing about New Year’s Resolutions are that they are about the past more than about the future.

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COLUMN: Coming to the end of your rope


The funny thing about New Year’s Resolutions are that they are about the past more than about the future. We look at what we aren’t and make decision on who we want to be in the future.

This begins the slippery slope of introspection. Introspection is good with certain boundaries in place, but all too often it is done alone. We try to make sense out of our past mistakes and failures in the hope of preventing them in the future. Sometimes the noise of the past becomes so loud that we can longer hear or think clearly. It’s the feedback loop.

I have to deal with sound on Sunday mornings, podcasts, and live stream events. Feedback is constantly trying to creep in. It’s when a sound source is so loud that another mic, or the mic I’m using, picks up on that same sound after it comes through speakers. It can make an awful noise that is so distorted that it’s unrecognizable from the original sound. And it only gets worse.

I think of this whenever I read through Job. I have a group of friends who I read the Bible through with and we just cycled back through Job. It is amazing how Job starts off. One day God and Satan are having a conversation until God brings Job up. Satan thinks Job is only good because of all the stuff God has given him. God says that even if Satan stripped Job of everything that Job would still be righteous.

For the first few chapters, Job is right on track. He stands up for God and understands that difficult times happen. Yet, as the time goes on he begins to shift how he is talking. Eventually three friends chime in and believe that Job must have done something wrong to deserve this harsh treatment he is going through with God. Job is adamant that he has done nothing to deserve the evil that he is battling. Depression and anger start to seep in.

Who can blame him, right? Something important starts to shift in Job’s language. He began making a lot of “I” statements — a feedback loop. He gets on a roll in Chapter 29.

“I was in my prime (v4).”

“I went out to the gate of the city, when I prepared my seat in the square (v7).”

“I caused the widows heart to sing for joy (v13).”

“I chose their way and sat as chief, and I lived like a king among his troops (v25).”

The list goes on. Job begins to insult his friends and even challenges God’s understanding of justice. He is caught in the feedback loop. Job’s feedback loop causes him to spiral. Eventually he comes to the end of his rope. He has caught himself off from God and others. The enemy has been attempting to isolate Job because our identities are created in the context of others.

Philosopher Martin Buber believed that we come to know ourselves in the context of others when we come to the end of ourselves. Buber believes we were defined by what we aren’t just as much as what we are. I understand who I am when I end and someone else begins. Job’s identity is restored when God repairs Job’s relationships with Him and with his friends. It is only at the end of himself that Job is starting to truly learn who he is in the world.

I don’t know what you might be going through, but I want to let you know that if you feel like you are at the end of your rope, remember Job. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Focus on the friends and family that know you and love you. Find a good church family.

Most importantly, don’t disconnect from God. You might be going through hard times and often that’s a sign that you are about to breakthrough into something amazing. You might feel at the end of your rope, but with God the journey is just beginning.


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