Most human beings know the feeling of being blamed for activities, actions, and practices of which they are completely innocent. A few weeks ago the news reported the story of a 61-year-old who suffered this fate…
A Unique Discovery
…She was repeatedly bumped from a transplant waiting list due to her “alcohol abuse.” The poor woman, who needs a liver transplant, insisted that she doesn’t even drink. But the lab technicians at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center told her that the urine tests don’t lie. Alcohol was in her urine and that was only possible if she was abusing alcohol.
However, one doctor at the UPMC Clinical Toxicology Lab, Kenichi Tamama, decided to take a closer look at the unnamed woman’s condition. His investigation led to the discovery of the first verifiable case of “urinary auto-brewery syndrome” or “bladder fermentation syndrome.” The woman was diabetic. But she was not adequately treating her disease. This allowed unusually high levels of sugar to pass into her bladder, where the sugar was converted to alcohol.
Doctors at UPMC point out that this condition is not to be confused with a similar condition, “gut fermentation syndrome.” In this case undigested carbohydrates are converted to alcohol which pass into the blood stream and can, very innocently, cause intoxication. Both conditions have led to false accusations of alcohol abuse.
False accusations abound in our finger-pointing society. If we were to include all of its common forms – particularly gossiping – the practicing of unjustified blaming is probably off the scale. Especially true in a nation where people are consistently grouped into the broad categories of victims and villains. In this line of thinking, you’re either one or the other.
But even among Christian believers, completely innocent people suffer from unjustified guilt infliction simply because trouble comes into their lives. If a Christian believer is sick or suffers financial setbacks, there’s always one brother or sister who’ll suggest that the source of their trouble is a lack of faith or some other deficiency in their Christian walk.
A Story of Character
One of the greatest biblical examples of this unjustified blaming is found in the Book of Job. The story of Job takes place in a world where the conventional wisdom dictated that God blesses those faithful to him with happy and healthy children, a successful business, material wealth, and the admiration of neighbors.
Job was fine as long as he had all those things. People came to him for advice. He frequently received visitors who wanted to hear his wisdom. Younger men stood up in respect whenever he passed by.
But then a series of calamities came upon him. Job did nothing to incite these troubles. In fact, the only thing to precipitate his tragedies was that he lived righteously. This enraged Satan, who pleaded with God to test Job.
God granted permission. And overnight, Job lost all ten of his children, all his possessions, and most of his health. Yet even under these torturous circumstances, Job did not sin by falsely accusing or cursing God.
Judgement or Righteousness?
But the hardest part of Job’s trials came through the well-meaning advice and actions of his fellow believers. You see, everything that happened to Job challenged their theology. In their minds bad things do not happen to good people. Only blessings come upon the righteous. And even though Job’s friends were unable to bear witness to any particular sin in Job’s life, they assumed that Job must be guilty of something. They dare not even entertain the possibility that calamity might come upon the righteous. Otherwise they’d also be vulnerable to it.
On top of their accusations, there was the stigma of being under “God’s displeasure.” Not that God was displeased with Job. The very opposite was true. God bragged on how wonderful Job was to the angels, even to Satan.
But it looked like God was targeting Job for judgment. This was especially true when Satan caused “the fire of God fell from heaven” and devoured his flocks (Job 1:16). As a result, all of Job’s friends and fans deserted him. No one wanted his advice. They were repulsed by his diseased appearance. They were afraid of God’s judgment if they should befriend him. And, besides, what do you say to the grieving and suffering person? There’s a loss for words in the face of such suffering.
But, by ostracizing him, they added to his misery. Job was forced to suffer alone. All believers should take this lesson to heart.
Silence & Love
Job’s four visitors (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu) actually did help him, but only when they sat in silence with him. They helped Job by simply being there for him and listening to his complaints without judging. And to their credit, they did this for seven consecutive days.
Only when they tried to give answers and explain why his calamity had happened did they hurt Job and fall under God’s condemnation (Job 42:7-8). Jesus warned us about passing judgment on others – that it would lead to our own condemnation (Matthew 5:7; 7:1-5). The Bible warns us that judgment will be merciless to those who shows no mercy (James 2:13). Yet, we are still so quick to condemn the innocent – a sin that is an abomination to God (Proverbs 17:15).
But what can we do to help the suffering? Visit them – if they desire it. Listen to their complaint. Pray with them. Do things for them which they cannot do for themselves: cook, clean, babysit, run errands, perform chores. Do anything that can lighten their burden. I have friends who use their cooking skills to cook meals, who use their nursing skills to provide care, and who even use their construction skills to rebuild flattened homes. By doing these things for the suffering, they do them for Jesus – who will personally reward them in heaven (Matthew 25:31-40).
Dear Father in heaven, there are so many suffering people around me. Please make me an instrument of Your peace and healing to them. Even though I feel so inadequate to help them, please open my understanding to find a way to be a blessing. Even if I can only help by listening to their complaint, help me to do it with mercy. But above all, dear Father, please restrain me from judging and adding to their burden. Through Jesus Christ I ask this, Amen.
(Information from: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/26/health/auto-brewery-syndrome-university-of-pittsburgh-trnd/index.html)