Lessons From Job

I grew up in church. Actually, my parents met and married at the same church where I met and married my own husband and we even dare to hope that someday our daughter will meet and marry her husband there as well. Wouldn’t that be something?

That being said, I have grown up reading the Bible and learning from His Word. But I always kind of cringe when I get to the book of Job. He suffers so much for what seems like no reason at all. His friends don’t understand what he’s going through and their words don’t offer him any encouragement at all. And Job has a lot of questions for God. That part in particular has always made me uncomfortable. I’m not sure what I thought Job should have done differently and thinking about it now, I don’t suppose there is anything he should have done differently. Reading Job’s story just makes me uneasy.

But this week in my daily devotions I have come to the book of Job. And having been through a particularly difficult year, this book makes a little more sense to me this time around. I haven’t finished the book yet, but here is how it has spoken to me already.

Who attacked Job? Who took everything he had? Was it God? No, it certainly wasn’t. It was the devil. The devil approached God and presumed that should Job’s life be filled with tragedy instead of being the perfect and easy life that he had that he would deny God. The devil wanted to turn Job away from God and God allowed the test. Could that perhaps be the case with me as well? I have tried to serve the Lord and live my life in a way that honors Him. The devil wants to turn me against God, so he interferes with my life, with my happiness. My reaction is the part I then control. Will I become angry with God and stop serving Him? Or will the devil see that regardless of what he does to me he can’t change my relationship with the Lord? Will the Lord see that I am truly His servant?

After Job loses everything he starts to question God. He asks God why. It’s a natural reaction - one I’ve had myself. I don’t mean to accuse God or deny His sovereignty, but I want to know why He hasn’t allowed me to have another child. I’m searching for meaning, trying to understand. As if that’s possible. I’m not sure it is.

Job’s friends probably meant well when they first approached him. But they didn’t give him what he really needed. They judged him and offered advice. I have great friends and family, and for the most part they have been very understanding. But I have received a few comments here and there that were less than validating. Sometimes people want to fix your problems because your problems make them uncomfortable.

“Maybe you should try this.”
“Maybe you should stop trying to conceive. You’re pushing it too far”
“Maybe you should just adopt.”
“You need to relax.”
‘You should take this herbal supplement.”
“You already have one child, that should be enough.”

I know they mean well, and if you have said any of the above things to me, please don’t worry. I don’t keep track of who says what and I know that your intentions are good and that you love me. But it is hard to hear things like this. It makes me feel like people are judging me for my pregnancy loss. What has been the most helpful has been when people choose to validate my feelings rather than ignore them.

“It’s perfectly normal to be sad. Don’t rush your grief, take the time that you need.”
“I’d like to bring you dinner so that you can enjoy a relaxing evening with your family without having to worry about that.”
“Let’s go have lunch together.”
“How are you doing emotionally?”
“Tell me about the names you chose for your babies.”
“What are you struggling with right now? How can I pray for you?”

And it’s especially validating to hear other people’s stories of pregnancy loss or infertility. Knowing that I’m not alone is such an encouragement! Job’s friends didn’t get that - they didn’t encourage him, pray for him, sit quietly with him, or identify with him. They judged him and made him feel worse. Poor Job!

Finally, there was a particular part of the book of Job that I read this morning that really struck me. He basically said that he always thought his life would be easy. That he would just do good and love God and sail through life because of that. I think I am guilty of those same thoughts! I assumed that since I was a good person who was following the Lord, seeking His will, and doing right, that my life would go smoothly - no bumps. How ridiculous! The thing that made the devil want to disrupt Job’s life was the fact that he was doing right. I forget that this is a life of spiritual warfare. By doing what is right I am pleasing God but also inviting trouble from the devil. And I have to decide if it’s worth it to serve God - and it is!

What kind of a life do I truly want, anyway? I don’t just want a life that passes by smoothly - that would lead to complacency. I don’t want to just exist. I want to live! I don’t want to sit comfortably on the ground; I want to go for a ride! I don’t want to stay in one place; I want to move forward and to grow. And I want to truly appreciate all of the gifts in my life. And by knowing the pain that I have, I have learned more and more how to truly appreciate what God has already given me.

In the end, God answers Job. Job stays true to Him. And God gives Job more than he had before, more than he could imagine. And I’m sure that Job valued the gifts God had given him more than he ever had before. He held his children tighter, spent more valuable time with them, and learned what was really important in life. What a great gift! I can only hope that however God chooses to answer me, and whatever He chooses to give me, will only bring me closer to Him and allow me a better view of life than I ever would have had otherwise.


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