The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.
What a curious book, the Book of Job. A good man, one who loves God, is tormented by the worse things possible. He loses his possessions, and his business, and his children. He loses his health, his wife turns against him, and his friends sit and accuse him, one after another, of secretly sinning, cursing, God. The Lord never explains why he had to suffer.
Yet in the end, Job seems to have been happy. He took as much joy in the children that came later as those he had before. He still loved the Lord, and he lived many more, “full” years.
Life couldn’t have gotten more screwed up, and yet he found joy.
Life is screwed up today. People suffer so terribly. When I think about the suffering in Uganda my heart aches. A rebel army, calling itself a group of christians, turns children into prostitutes, soldiers, and murderers of their families. Imagine what it does to a child to force him to axe his mother.
When I think of those dying from AIDS and cancer and malnutrition, it is like a blow to my spirit. Earthquakes and tsunamis and wars, the Earth is a very sad little ball of dirt spinning in a corner of the universe.
There is a bruise on my heart from the aches that I have felt, and it throbs when I see suffering. And I am reminded of the mistaken notions people have about the Book of Job.
They cannot understand how God could have permitted such a thing to happen to such a good man. I hear that sentiment echoed by the skeptics of my faith when they turn moist eyes to gaze at the heartache that typifies humanity. I understand that confusion.
I have felt confused many times because I have looked at such things, felt such things, and have trembled at how wrong it all seems. That ache comes from loving people, though I do it so poorly.
I wish I could love the way Jesus did. He loved people. As simple as that. He did not base His love on how much or how well they would love Him back. He did not base His love on how well they obeyed. He did not base His love on how much influence His love would get if He showed that person love. He simply loved.
He knows that we are all screwed up. He knows that we are selfish, and silly, and sometimes simply stupid. And it doesn't matter. He loves us... knowing that we are screw ups. His love is not based on whether or not we will return it or earn it or even yearn for it. He simply loves. He IS love.
We are creatures with stunted hearts. We tend to think of ourselves first. Our bellies, our roof, our children, and so on, in the exact order of how far they are from our center, from our heart.
But if we can make Him the center of our heart, we will find that in that center is a love that encompasses everyone, everything. We will find that the creator of the universe has no problem with removing our worn out shoes to wash our feet carefully. That He will place His hands on the sores and the cuts and the thorns and spread a balm of healing love on our hurts with more tenderness than we could.
Imagine that sore spot in your life as a wound on your foot. The God of all creation sent someone to Earth, to you, to wash that foot, and place it on His lap so that He could bind it up.
He may never tell us why we have gotten our injuries. But He understands them. And He loves us with a passion that sent him stumbling up Golgotha with a splintered piece of wood across His shoulders.
(Lord, help me to love that way! Help me to love without embarassment, without excuses, the lesbian trio down the street, and the strange woman who wanders around the park muttering to herself, and the pompous jerk, because they are Your children as much as I. --Amen)
When I consider the love of my Lord I feel such joy. I feel like dancing! Oh I am such a blessed man. I have a home, and so many do not. I have a family which loves me. Many do not. I have food in the frig and a place to pray and a dog who thinks I am a much greater a guy than I really am. But, oh wonders of all, I have a Lord who loves me and blesses me.
So, for those who don’t understand the Book of Job, I can relate. The world is so dreadful, so sad, so hurtful. But do not lay the sorrows of the world on the clean hands of the only one who loves us despite our self-centered ways. He may not explain all, but draw near to Him and your hurt will ease and your feet will begin to shuffle side to side and you will understand why Job was, in the end, a happy and blessed man.