Looking at Job 16 again today, we observe that understanding had broken down. Consider an example of this from my youth. 

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when the Communists of the Soviet Union caused fear in American minds and hearts. Communism was the boogy man of the world, much worse than the Nazis of Germany. Fear of the Nazis ceased when they were defeated and fear of the Soviets has faded before the current concern: Islamic terrorism. Maybe 50 years from now, we will see most Islamic people for what they are – hurting people who need the redemption of Jesus Christ). 

Having lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, I feared the Soviet Communism. Now I see that my fear was not objective or neutral. I did not see the situation from their perspective.  

Americans did not understand Soviet fears during the Cold War. For 3 ½ years, beginning in 1958, the ghostly American U-2 spy plane flew over the Soviet Union at will. These flights struck a sensitive Soviet nerve. Consider factors that were immediately obvious to Russians, but painless for Americans. 

Two huge oceans isolated and therefore protected America, but Russia was surrounded by nations allied with the West – Japan, Turkey, West Germany and Europe.  Russia had suffered invasions from Scythians, Visigoths, Huns, Mongols, Tartars, Poles, Turks and Germans.  “Foreign nations have overrun our Motherland” was drummed into the heads of school children. 

The Soviets were nervous because of their military inferiority. Nikita Khrushchev, the Russian leader, made a lot of noise to cover up his fear. For all he knew, any U-2 flight carried an atomic bomb. Yet Americans did not fathom the depth of the fear of the Soviets.   

Sin has impacted us resulting in us not understanding others. We are in a contradictory situation – very much wanting to be sympathetically understood, but not understanding others. Sin has made some negotiate life from a position of insecurity; others from a position of arrogance.  Yes, leaders – husbands in families, managers in business, elders in churches – must lead and make value judgments as best they can when decisions have to be made.  But such under-standing is limited.  Ten years after a major personal conflict, we will likely see the situation through the lens of God’s mercy and grace to us and in most situations we will have wanted to have executed the J.B.O.M. (Jobian Back-Off Maneuver)