Monday, December 26, 2005

What's the Point?!

What is the point of the Book of Job? That the innocent suffer? That the Lord simply picks on people? That sometimes friends and wives are wrong or that Satan is on the prowl?

I think a simple answer to that complex question is that the Book of Job simply shows us how to endure.

A couple of months after my first child died I was walking our dog in a large state park. I met a man. A man grieving.

He was sitting on a rock, gazing at the Willamette river. There were furrows in his brow, and a pain in his eyes that had been there a long time. His was the kind of internal pain that one sometimes sees in people that says that they are hurting, that they are tired of talking about it, but would still like some company... someone to sit beside them and provide a connection to the rest of the human race.

I let my German short hair, Elvis, frolic while I struck up a gentle conversation.

Though he was obviously tired of grieving, he couldn’t help sharing his story once again.

Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
--Job 7:11

His wife and son had died. Car accident. He had been attending a church for years when it happened. He questioned... everything.

Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?
--Job 7:3

So this man, sitting above the winter-swollen river in the third year of his grief, told me, a man in his second month of grief, that he had not walked into a church again.

I came away from that conversation wondering many things. I thought about 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Was this man given more than he could bear? What of my own fresh grief? Should I walk away from the Lord? I had just found my way back into a church after almost ten years and this is how I am rewarded? With my hopes and dreams shattered? This man’s abandoning of God seemed to say that I would be justified to curse the Lord.

“His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"
--Job 2:9

Is that what I should do? I told the man about my son Willy, and that I was still going to church. He looked at me sadly, like I was a fool.

Since that day I have met many others who are grieving. Each one approaches their hurt uniquely.

I never tell anyone that I understand what they are going through. We are all different. Even identical events will feel different for each of us.

I remember another man I had met in the same park the week before the gentleman mentioned above. He told me that he understood what I was going through. He explained that a couple of months before a dog he loved died. I was astounded he would make such a comparison. I made some sort of small sympathetic reply and walked on.

No, we don’t know how anyone else really feels, really experiences their lives... but we can see what they do in those dark times.

Some walk away. Some stand and hold firm to the Lord.

That is what Job did. He stood his ground.

As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.
Job 27:2-4

And that is the point of the Book of Job. It isn’t about the why’s and the how’s. It is about standing true. Job was a good man. The Lord was pointing out that He could rely on His servant Job to stand firm in his faith regardless of what happens. Satan believes that the things of the earth are what make people what they are. His point is that how many employees a man has, how much livestock he owns, the blessings of children, his health, those are the things that make a man what he is. The Lord holds that it is something deeper, something intrinsic to the man himself.

The Book of Job is about how to suffer.

This life is a brief gig. The whole thing runs its course in less than a century. But what we learn here, and what we do here, is far more important than what we buy here, or what we drive here, or who we know, or how many times our names have appeared in the paper.

The whole point is how well we follow these two basic laws:

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
--Luke 10:27

Stand firm. Stand true. That is the point of the Book of Job.


David said...

Okay - I could easily be that man you came upon because I am where he was at. It has been at least 8 years since I walked away and have not gone back. Maybe that is why things will not improve.

Lorna said...

Part of the difficulty is that we have the wrong picture of God. That's why personal tradegy, or huge disasters like the tsumani, the holocaust, Katrina, might make us cry out *Where is God?"

The only place we can find Him again is in our pain, as we cry out to him

As you said we Stand firm. Stand true.

That may not involve coming to church, which is made up of broken and over insensitive people who cannot meet us in our point of need, but God can and will.

That's what Job teaches us too.

Be blessed. I'm so sorry for your loss even after all thsee years, sometimes the pain and longing is with us for life. And it's ok to say that there is still a hole where your son belonged. God understands that , and we as friends can understand that too - up to a point. Each person's grief is unique, but Jesus pours out oil of healing into and onto our wounds. By his stripes we are healed, but it takes time, and is completed in heaven.

Know you are loved and never alone!

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Wanderer. Thank you for visiting and greeting on the December day when I most needed it. It made me take a new dive in your Jobblog. It's tough reading, but it most certainly gave me the necessary perspective and distance to me own little misery, which I needed just that very moment.
I am grateful that you are able to deal with this heavy material for such a long time, and to such depths.
I am afraid that I neither would nor could dwell in this surroundings of the mystisism of suffering for that amount of time.
By doing so you are of immence help to your fellow pilgrims all over the world.
I wish you and your loved ones peace and comfort. Yeah, and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. That the Lord let his face shine upon you and give you peace.

Fred said...

I'm sorry about your loss. Having thr faith you do has hopefully helped your journey. Thanks for helping me to understand this more.

John said...

What a marvelous commentary of Job! I gained so much revelation from this, CS.
Grief does different things to different people, like you said. Some it makes stronger. Some it breaks completely! I am thankful, it is making you stronger. Your grief is also reverberating around as this exposure of your grief has made me stronger in faith. I applaud your honesty as you share your trial with your friends as Job did. I trust that your friends will react better than Job's.
Many comforts to you in the new year, my friend.

oopseedaisee said...

Thanks for this post today CS. Your insight is so enlightening. Dwelling upon our own misery is wading in self indulgence. We all face grief and dispair in our lives. Putting it aside and accepting the cause of it as Gods will, is what keeps us from being swallowed up by it. Putting our grief to one side does not mean we forget those who have passed, but allows us to continue living for those still with us. Susan

eph2810 said...

Wow - great post and oh so true. I have experienced loss in my life, but God pulled me into His arms and said: "It is okay, I am always with you and you will see you dad again". A promise I am looking forward to...
In His grip,

FTS said...

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

This verse has come to mean a lot to me. We studied it in depth a few years ago and I saw what it really meant. This is what it means to have faith; if we lived in an ideal world there would be no need for faith. It's in the valleys that we appreciate the peaks.

Coco said...

something that we all share-
in some form or another.

sometimes making it difficult to find strength, love, and comfort in God.

an everlasting pain in the heart/soul of the person suffering.

an experience to learn from.

know that God loves you, and is always with you!

if you open your heart/soul you will find and feel God's presence!

Yes, each person copes with grief differently... Yet we are able to feel empathy for the person who is in pain.

Blessings to you and your loved ones.

Paula said...

Great post! Thanks for encouraging me to stand firm in a personal situation I am going through. Pray that I choose to deny self and follow God. Hope you had a blessed Christmas friend.

Kitty Cheng said...

Wow curious servant, this is such a great insight. The Book of Job is about how to suffer.

I've been diagnosed with a BD, a condition which might never go away, and becos of it I lost the love of my life. And my dad died before he had a chance to know Jesus our Lord....and heartaches and crises etc.... These were some of the 'suffering' I went through in my brief life.

You are right, this life is brief, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind; and, love our neighbor as ourselves.

Thanks for your blessing CS.

Lucy Stern said...

TF and I went to a viewing tonight for a friend who lost her son last week. She was happy that the Lord had finally taken her cripple son home to be with him. She knows that he is in better hands and she will see him again some day. Those that understand the gospel can survive a little better with the knowledge of death and eternal life. I feel for those that turn away from God at a time when they need him the most.

Brotha Buck said...

I need to spend more time in the new year in blogs like this

MMM said...

I'm proud of you, for what that's worth. :)

Better New Year.

jgf said...

Just found your blog and really enjoying it.

No one understands how another feels grief. My siblings do not grieve the same way I grieve, because our relationship was different.

Seeker said...

You are right that we can't know how someone else really feels; what they are truly going through. Our trials "feel" different to us, and different people grieve differently.
We all go through pain, trials and grieving, and we have a frame of reference. Circumstances give us sympathy and caring for others in their difficulties.
Through it all, God means to give us endurance in our faith, so that we may "lack nothing". He wants us, in our trials, to press closer to Him, so He can prove He is more than sufficient.

G~ said...

Hi, CS. Hope your Christmas was wonderful. Thanks for the visit to my place, too!

I am sad to admit to skimming this post, but I did enjoy it. I'm in a hurry to make up for lots of lag time in my visiting...

But my gut reaction to the question here was "Loyalty and trust". Where do our loyalties lie? In Whom do we place our trust?

I agree w/the statement that folks have wrong idea of God. We forget that God is the Author of "fair" and we get all bent out of shape when things strike us as being unfair.

It's all in our human perspective, I guess. But you can't go through the book of Job and not see how much God honors our trust and faith.

And I also have to say that many times I feel God puts us in situations like that so that we can minister to others...or at the very least, develop an understanding of them that we'd not have if we'd never suffered the trial.

Anyhow...there's my two-cents'. ;)

Wishing you a peaceful, blessed New Year!

Anonymous said...

we all go through trials and you're right, even identical events would have different responses from different people. we must stop trying to understand everything that's happening because most of the time, it's beyond us. God's mind is not ours. that's where faith comes in, knowing that nothing escapes God's knowledge on what is on our life's road map. it's just sometimes, it hurts so much that we tend to seek answers to life's WHY's and question God's judgement. i know because i've gone through it and still going through it now.

thanks so much for keeping me in your prayers. it means a lot to us.

God bless you always.

Max said...

Thank you, as always.

Darlene said...

That was not only written so well, but you touched on the heart of the truth which is how we should grieve, not why.

Dotm said...

I`m back again. This time to thank you for adding your name to my blog map.

Paul said...

Hi CS,

Just blogged over from my friend Paula's blog and like Darlene, indeed you have touched on the heart of the truth!

Over the last three years I have learned the meaning of standing firm and true, even when I did not understand all of the whys and the how comes of the events of my life.

Thank you for sharing. With your permission I would like to add you to my blogroll.

Writing for the King,


Jeff H said...

Fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing both your personal story, and your clear insights.

God bless you.

Just Rannin' Around said...

Incredible! Job's perspective on life's struggles is inspiring. The older I get, the more I realize how much Job really was required to suffer and the faith and knowledge that he had to never give up nor deny God.

Thank you for reminding me that as trials come into my life that I am never asked to endure anything that, with the help of our Heavenly Father and Savior, I can't handle.

Beautiful entry!

Vicki said...

Wow, this is so near to my heart right now. I want to stand firm, but the ground is shaking.

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