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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: Suffering

Job recap; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Wesley Skinner

Job is a great book for my generation, a generation that wants answers now! This is the microwave generation and one that doesn't wait long enough to see that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Take an engine, some seats, an air conditioner, and a radio; separately they function and have purpose, but put them together the right way( with other stuff) and you have a car. Something that involves all of the other mechanisms but in combination makes something else altogether. I wonder when Henry Ford invented the car, if he ever had in mind what we see today, or what problems may have led to progress. The "Model T" was no "Porsche". 

Now, put yourself in Job's shoes. Faithful to God. Good to other people. Blessed by God. Then, lost his wealth, livelihood, family, and comfort all in a few moments. Berated with accusations from his "friends" about his alleged sin. His wife tells him to curse God and die. We get to look at whole picture, knowing that God is showing Satan that he cannot win. But in the middle of it all, while Job kept honoring God, he wanted answers. At long last God speaks and helps Job see that he has a limited viewpoint. He doesn't understand everything.  

What if Job did know? Do you think it would have changed how difficult the situation was? I think Job knew that God was good and that his love was unchanging. I think knowing that truth kept Job's faith alive. Maybe we have hard circumstances, I doubt harder than Job's. If our hope rests in God's goodness, while circumstances may change, His love never fails. Often I don't understand why life is hard, but I know, just like Joseph in Genesis, and Job now, God's plan is good, but sometimes not easy or the way we would choose it to be. If we could only see the whole instead of focusing on the parts. 

How should we respond to friends who are suffering?(Job 2-7)

Wesley Skinner

Understanding Job has always been a struggle for me. It's really confusing because job's friends give him a lot of seemingly good information and advice, yet God rebukes them. Recently, I have started thinking maybe that is the problem. Maybe their role as friends was not to give advice. 

Oddly enough, I have been to a lot of funerals. One that sticks in my memory often, was for a close relative's husband. He died in a tragic accident at work. I was with her at the hospital as she went back to view his body. She was, understandably, inconsolable. I remember being there with her and thinking, I should say something, but in times like that, there usually are no helpful words. They had twin little girls and in the days to follow I heard person after person tell her, 'she had to be strong for those girls'. It made me angry every time. Allow her to grieve! If you want to help, stop talking and be there for her. Help with the girls in her time of mourning, but don't add unnecessary stress to a person who's life has just been turned upside down!

This gives me new perspective on the book of Job. Why do we think we always have to say something? What can you say to a person who has lost everything? In the middle of tragedy, do you really think making a person think something they have done, might have caused the problem is a good idea?! Is that helpful in that moment?

I think the reason we feel a need to talk in these times is because our culture tells us that any emotion that is not happiness is wrong and needs to be corrected. But that is not a Biblical truth at all! We are to be joyful at all times, and Job demonstrated joy in the midst of sadness. Joy and happiness are two different things. One is an emotion based on circumstance, the other is a truth anchored and strong regardless of circumstance. We find all kinds of different emotions in the Bible: joy, sadness, righteous anger, laments, happiness, suffering, hope, fear, peace... Jesus was not always happy. Very famously "Jesus wept." Jesus mourned. Jesus righteously drove out the money changers. Jesus marveled. Jesus was sorrowful. All without sin. 

I think I'm learning that emotions are ok. Even ones that make us uncomfortable. And that sometimes, it is better to not talk. Even if there might be some truth to what you are saying. Know appropriate time and place. I can't learn this fast enough!