No Fair Piling On

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I tried my hand twice at organized football. The first time was in seventh grade. I, along with every other seventh grade boy—except Denny Wiss (the smartest boy in our class, of course)—went out for the team. It truly amazes me that there were uniforms for all of us. Granted, some were a little threadbare from decades of use by other seventh graders, but they were still uniforms. My other crack at the sport was as a freshman in college. I never suited up for a game.

During my remarkably limited involvement in this celebrated American sport, I did have the experience of knowing what “the dog pile” felt like . . . the ball-carrier is tackled, and those closest to him, both on his side and the other side, find themselves piled up like cord wood. By the time the game gets to the National Football League, these stacks of bodies weigh more than an Amtrak locomotive.

This is one of the football rules that is consistent from junior high to the big-time: When the play is over, and the referee has blown his whistle, no additional players can join the pile. In other words, no piling on. The last thing the men at the bottom of this horde of humanity need is more humanity.

To my knowledge, Job never played organized football, even as a junior high hopeful. But he clearly understood—from personal experience—the sensation of having everyone jump on the pile. As you read the first several chapters, you realize that nearly every person who knew Job had joined the stack. At times, he even thought he felt God’s heft on the pile. Our suffering friend was about to perish under the sheer weight of it all.

Job 19:25 contains a very familiar text. It says, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

You may be surprised to learn that these words were not written to frame a pristine Easter Sunday morning. Job spoke them under the crush of a dog pile.  It was almost as though he was peeking out from under the unbearable pressure and pain, his eyeballs about to pop from their sockets . . . then he saw his rescuer—his Redeemer.  And even though Job was being flattened under the crush, he saw God doing something he longed to do himself. Nothing too dramatic or spectacular, mind you, just something he couldn’t wait to do again. He saw the Almighty standing there.

Some days we can truly identify with Job under the pile. It even feels like the referee has turned his back and more have unfairly joined the others who are against us.

This is simple and straightforward. Regardless of the weight, the pain, the frustration, or the inability to even breathe under the pressure, our God is still standing. No circumstances will ever take him down. No accusers will ever have their way with our Savior. He will always be standing.

Take a deep breath. Look up from the mash and be glad. Jesus, your Redeemer, is here. He is with you. He is for you.