Empty Nothings

Written by cycleguy on July 22nd, 2008

I am reading through the Older Testament and at the end of this month will be finished.  Since I read Psalms every day I split the OT into two.  I find myself right now in the book of Job.  While I know there is redeeming stuff in Job, some of it is downright, shall I say this, boring?  Job’s friends give me the “you-guys-are-just-blowhards” feeling.  They talk and talk and say nothing.  The 60s group Tommy James and the Shondells had a little known song on one of their last albums that used the phrase “talking and signifying and saying nothing.” I get this feeling when I read what these guys say to Job.  They remind me of the phrase “old windbags” since they talk and talk and listening to them is like listening to the wind blow.  If you have ever read Job you know that Job is supposed to have these three friends-Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz.  To make a long story short they try to tell Job why he is having the trouble he is.  I have to say, Job puts up with their garbage a whole lot longer than I would have.  But I guess the worst part of it is that they want to say it is because of Job’s sin that God is punishing him.  I weary of this kind of talk…then and now.   But what caught my eye as I read was a small phrase in 21:34: “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?  There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.” (ESV)  I had to wonder as I read this how long it was going to take Job to basically tell his “friends” to shut up.

That small phrase stopped me in my tracks though.  I wrote this in my Moleskine:  “’empty nothings’  What do I give/share with others?  Anything of substance or worthwhile?”  I am afraid sometimes that all I really give people is a bunch of “hooeey.”  Why?  Because I have nothing to give.  A vacuum cannot be anything but a vacuum.  And as much as I hate to admit it: sometimes I am nothing more than a vacuum.  A dry well cannot provide water to a thirsty person.    A dry spirit cannot provide living water to another dry spirit.  I find myself empty when I have failed to spend time with the Fountain.  Advice given is hollow.  Sermons preached are lifeless.  Caring is surface.  To use Job’s words I offer “empty nothings.”  I hate to admit that there are times that I am like this.  I am not proud of that.  But that is a danger when there is a misfiring between the vessel and the Source.

What about you?  Do you ever find yourself offering “empty nothings” to people?  Do you recognize when it is happening?  How?  What do you do when it becomes apparent that you are not firing on all cylinders? In another vein: how do you feel when you do/do not seek advice and the person who offers it is giving you “empty nothings.”  I would like to hear from you.


8 Comments so far ↓

  1. Bill, after a ten-day week, that has averaged 14-15 hours per day, my tank gets pretty low, and the little empty light on the dashboard comes on!

    I can usually feel it coming on. I start getting grumpy (well, more so than normal). I begin to get short with people, snapping more than normal. And, there's this certain pain in my neck that starts.

    Thank God for letting me recognize His warning signs! Took way too many years for that to happen!

    What do I do when that happens? I run. Literally, I get on the tread mill and run. That really helps, just to zone everyone out. I'll put on my iPod and listen to everything from Christian music to my former hard rock music days. And, of course, I like it loud!

    That seems to help. Also, finding some time just to get away from everything and everybody really helps. Just a self-imposed seclusion really does help!

  2. cycleguy says:

    Good contribution Steve! I am guessing you are some type of editor to a publication so, like me, your job is 150% mental. You need the physical release that comes from exercise. That is why I cycle. People about freak when they ask, "how many miles?" and I say, "25" or some other number. "Around here?" (Very hilly) "Alone?". But I HAVE to or I would be a basket case. But I don't use an iPod for that. Shoot, I don't even have one! Thanks for the great contribution!

  3. Well, my iPod is an iPod Shuffle…it is the really, really cheap kind that holds 50 songs or so. But, hey, it works! I try to run about 4 1/2 miles, at about a 9 mile clip (no, I won't qualify for the Olympics, but it is a good start) and when I finish, I am tired, but it is a good tired.

    I think when your job is mental, like ours, you have to find the physical releases like you described. I like to fish and I like collecting baseball cards. However, neither of those are really physically challenging.

    I just feel better then I run and I can feel the pain when I don't.

    If someone is reading this and their job is mainly physical, I would encourage them to stretch themselves with mental exercises to find relief from their work load and stress. It seems we need to do the opposite of what we spend most of our time doing.

    Whatever it takes, Bill, we need to do it. After all, God gave us commonsense! We need to use more of it.

  4. cycleguy says:

    Good words Steve. I try to encourage people who have mental jobs to find something physical to do and those with physical to find something to slow them down. (I think many become couch potatoes). Finding relief and release is a must. Thanks again for the contribution. Oh, your 4 1/2 miles on the mill are better than watching some athlete do 4 1/2 on a track. Way to go!

  5. selahV says:

    Bill, this is great. I mean really great. I love the book of Job. I read it over and over and over when I lost my son 3 years ago. You wouldn't believe how many "empty nothings" I heard. Then…maybe you would. One of the greatest things for me with Job is that my pastor began an expository series of sermons on it that lasted for over two months. He probably could have gone longer but he said that a preacher can't study Job and prepare it to preach without the devil working overtime in his life to prevent it from being preached. God is Sovereign. That is the major message in Job. And that is a difficult principle to grasp in all its entirety. You have pegged Job's friends really well. I pray I'm never like them. selahV

  6. cycleguy says:

    I can only imagine the empty nothings you heard selahV. I hurt just thinking about it. About Job's friends? You and me both. Amen to the overall message in Job. He even lets Job know that in the end. Thanks for coming to my site and contributing!

  7. kbpollock says:

    Hello! I am here (better late than never!) via SelahV’s post pick on your site. Until today, I had stopped reading every blog except hers. But, maybe I have found another little piece of heaven–here on your site.

    If I had to have friends like Job had, I think I would opt for no friends at all. With friends like that, who needs enemies? I really, really like to help people by listening and giving advice. I still go overboard sometimes, but the biggest lesson I have learned is to be short and sweet. It’s easier to understand and it leaves less room for error or emptiness. Does that make sense?

  8. cycleguy says:

    Hello back kb! It is good to have you visit my site. I, too, like selahV’s stuff. Thanks for your thoughts. I agree: with friends like them who needs enemies. I read some more in chapters 32-33. I am not a violent man but… 🙂 But I do understand what you are trying to say. Much words do make trouble. My Confucius saying for the day. (or is that confusion?) 🙂

    Thanks for coming to my site! I welcome any thoughts you may have.