Grief overwhelms and exposes. It cuts deep within and shows what we truly think and believe. In times of grief and trial, I have found God intimately close, and Job would eventually find the same, after a bit of a roller coaster to get there.
The story of Job’s life as told in the book of Job does not sugar coat anything. We see Satan’s plan to take Job down as presented to God himself. God placed limits, but let the plan continue.
And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”Job 2:6 ESV
Job at times responded wisely, and yet the full story demonstrates the internal struggle. When he first met with unfathomable tragedy, he responded without sin or blaming God. He lost everything. Everything! And he continued to trust God’s sovereignty.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.Job 1:20-22 ESV
He actually worshiped. He surrendered his heart, his circumstances, his all to the will of the God of the universe. I imagine in those moments he felt a rush of God’s presence. God is near to the broken hearted, and the words he spoke show us that he felt that proximity. But more was to come. He responds similarly as his health breaks down.
“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.Job 2:10b ESV
He did not sin with his lips. Is this to distinguish from the first time when it says he did not sin, period? Or is it just a repetition of his heart condition? We cannot know for sure, but we know out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, so again Job surrenders his life to the Almighty.
When Job’s friends show up, we see the result of Job’s emotional battle. He curses the day he was born and mourns. They mourn with him for a whole week. What committed friends to just sit with Job in his pain! Of course, when they open their mouths what comes out is a mixed bag of judgment, discouraging comments, sound wisdom, and twisted logic. Isn’t that the way people still behave today when trying to comfort a friend in deep grief? I wish I could roll back some of the comments I have made when I was searching for the right words, or those I have heard others make. Perhaps Job’s friends came with the best of intentions. Perhaps they really did have a decent theological understanding, on a better day. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, although their muddled attempts are recorded for all of history to replay and cringe.
I am thankful that God can accept our raw life-tainted responses and love us anyway. He might challenge us to rethink some of our conclusions, but He stays close by as we wrestle through to the outcome.
I am thankful for friends that are willing to sit with me through the awkward times of verbally processing the craziness and pain of life. And, those that put up with me and my misspeaks when they find themselves on the receiving end of grief.
I am thankful for a faith that God has slowly grown in me over the years that keeps calling me back to Him even when life does not make sense, even when the pain runs deep. I might not respond with the fortitude that Job exhibited, but I pray I continue to move that direction.
Precious Shepherd, my perspective is so warped by my everyday experience, and yet, you continue to teach and shape and mold me and my thinking. Thank you for holding my hand even when it closes into a fist of frustration. Thank you for reteaching my wayward thoughts. Thank you for being present in the darkest of seasons. Thank you for friends that try their best to walk with me. Help me to be that friend as well. Help me trust your plan and wisdom completely. In Jesus name, amen.