"your hand was heavy upon me"

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

That's from Psalm 32. The imagery really works for me, with the weather that's oppressing us here at the moment. And that phrase about God's hand "heavy upon me" has been on my mind recently.

It's hard, I think, to know how to relate to someone who is experiencing God's hand heavy upon them. Job's friends made a famous hash of it, I recall. It's hard to watch, definitely. And there's the inclination to try to help the person in their distress and struggle—but if we see that God is pressing them, it seems futile to struggle against what God is doing. There is no real help for that situation except real repentance, a broken spirit. And often the person fights against God's hand, denying, hiding, or lashing out, and watching that has often made me frustrated or angry. Which further complicates my attempts to relate well.

I wonder if some of my anger comes from a worry that the person(s) might be able to "declare not their sin" indefinitely, that the denials or hypocrisy might convince others and so pass for the truth. There's the temptation to put my own heavy hand into the situation. Either for the sake of what I see as justice, or maybe to try to bring the struggle to a climax, to get the suffering over with, so I don't have to watch it any more.

Which seems mostly to be a lack of faith on my part. It is by faith that we see the hand of God at work, including when that hand rests heavy on those around us. And it requires faith to trust that God's hand is not there to destroy but to save. Faith, also, to know that God's hand will not be thrown off by evasions or the optimistic words that so easily sway the crowd. Faith to wait on God.

This might even make it possible to be truly compassionate with that person, while still consenting to the righteous weight of God's hand on them. Because who among us has not felt that weight?