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Sunday Devotion: 17 October 2021, Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday Devotions

A lesson in active listening

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Main Readings: Job 38. 1-7 (34-41); Psalm 104. 1-10, 26; Hebrews 5.1-10; Mark 10. (32-34) 35-45 [Isaiah 53: 4-12; Psalms 91: 9-16]

Supplementary Readings: Psalm 92; Mark 12.18-27; Job 40.1-14; Psalms 91.9-16; Hebrews 6.19-7.3

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38.2)

As a student currently residing at St John’s College within the University of Queensland, mental health and wellbeing are among the most common topics of day-to-day conversation. A close friend recently started experiencing significant problems in many aspects of their lives – almost a perfect storm of tough situations one might say, with family, university, sporting injuries and relationship issues creating an incredibly difficult environment in which to stay positive.

Although usually the stoic type to grit their teeth and get on with it (as many country people do), it all became too much for them and they needed to turn to their peers for support. When listening to the myriad of problems in their lives, I found myself thinking of advice to give or planning my next words before they had even finished theirs. I caught myself doing this time and time again, and later pondered on how presumptive this was. Similar to when the Lord says to Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge,” to start giving advice or making comments without first fully listening is akin to a doctor giving a diagnosis without bothering to ask the patient about their symptoms.

And therein lies my learning – when we are being a shoulder to lean on or lending an ear, we need to ensure that we are truly listening and taking heed of what someone is trying to say, else we risk obscuring issues with words without knowledge.

The book of Job has much to teach us, including about listening.

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