The Comfort of Pride

The boys and I are reading through Job together. It’s a bit of a tough read for them, but very worth the effort as we discuss together the issues of pain so aptly addressed by Job’s story. How can a good God allow His servants to suffer so randomly, and sometimes so directly? What causes suffering? And what can we learn from it? What kind of attitudes do we develop as coping mechanisms when suffering engulfs us? This last question is a challenging one for me.

At first Job’s attitude was one of simple trust and humility. In spite of his incredible grief, he said to his wife, “Should we accept only good things from the Lord and never anything bad?” Then his three friends show up. Some kinds of friends they turned out to be.  Once they started berating Job, his attitude took a downturn. I just love his biting reply to them in chapter 12: “You people really do know everything don’t you? And when you die, wisdom will die with you…” As we wade through some of the dialogue among the friends, it is surprising how twisted the truth becomes. Job was actually right in his argument that his suffering is not a punishment for secret sin. And although his friends had some very important truths interspersed in their arguments, their conclusions were dead wrong.

What convicts me is the pride on both sides of the arguing. Job’s friends clearly thought they were better than him because they weren’t suffering like he was. They also felt that their wisdom was worthy of his tuned ear. But Job sarcastically called them out for their prideful speech. In his righteousness, he also demonstrated pride. Confident that he was blameless, Job blasted his friends, and then began to demand an answer from God.Joel shared this quote with me a while back, “I will never know everything and some of what I do know will always be wrong.” This is an apt reminder for me.

I am painfully aware of the tendency toward pride as a coping mechanism in my own life. If I can just do everything right, and “suffer” in righteousness, then my pain won’t feel quite as intense. I can comfort myself with my own holy character! Oh, woe is me!   For pride is a frayed security blanket, one that does not bring lasting comfort. Instead the comfort of pride turns to the acrid burn of bitterness.

I love this definition of humility : a constant awareness of one’s own moral littleness.  No matter how “righteous” I may be, my moral stature is little. I am at the mercy of my Savior for any sense of morality at all to actually affect my life. This awareness of my own neediness, brings me back from the brink of Pride’s fall.


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