One of the hardest books in the Bible for me to read or listen to via audio Bible is the book of Job. Even though I have not lost as many loved ones or possessions as he did, I can still relate to great grief. What happened to Job had never happened to anyone before. That meant that there was no one human that could really understand all of the emotions that Job was feeling and what he was going through. Not only was he broken emotionally, but he was broken physically and even spiritually to an extent. No, he never turned his back on God, but he did question God.
As I was thinking about his life last week, I began to wonder what lessons Job learned in that dark place. After doing some research, I found that the first thing he saw was that there were depths and degrees of pride and self-sufficiency in himself of which he had never been conscious. As I applied this to my own life, I could see that I, too, have been guilty of those very things. How many times have I done something just to make myself look or feel good?
When Job was in that place where he could see no sin in himself, he charged God with being unfair. But the moment God showed him the sin that was deeply embedded in his heart, Job immediately repented without hesitation, argument, or self-defense.
Another thing that Job realized that without God’s divine help, he was totally and completely weak and thoroughly undependable. After all, his body was covered with boils and he was in extreme physical pain. Emotionally, he was in that place of shock and fog that every person that has lost a very close loved one goes through. There was absolutely nothing he could do to help someone else.
All through the book of Job, he is breaking into prayer constantly always laying his complaint before God. Job’s friends never prayed for him. They never asked God to relieve his suffering or asked for help, wisdom or understanding on their part. They ignored God, but Job was forever crying out to God in his bewilderment asking for help and for wisdom.
When God answered Job and cleared the fog in him mind long enough for him to see things differently, Job’s highest expression of faith was in understanding the limitations of his humanity and not assuming that he had all the facts by which he could condemn and judge a holy God. He pronounced God as just and holy in all that He does.
My favorite scene in this book of the Bible is the scene where Job has a chance to get even with his friends. They came to him in humility asking for pardon and for his prayers. How easy it would have been for Job to have said, “So! You’ve come around have you, you self-righteous pitiful excuses for friends! You accused me of things that were not true, ran me down, and said all of those wicked things about me! I’ll let you sweat a little bit! I’ll get even with you!“
Isn’t that how we as widows feel when those closest to us don’t have any idea what we are going through and don’t meet the expectations that we have for them in the way that they treat us? Isn’t it easy in our hurt to become bitter? But, Job didn’t do that. He chose not to treat them the way that they had mistreated him. In fact, he had the most beautiful spirit of forgiveness that you see in the Bible. He realized that if the shoe had been on the other foot, he could have been just as prideful, pompous and judgmental as they were.
There’s nothing more contrary in a Christian’s spirit than an unforgiving heart, holding a grudge against someone else, refusing to talk to someone or being cold and frosty towards someone. Have I struggled with that? I have to admit that I have and it is something that I have to continue to work on.
Where are you in your journey of grief? What lessons have you learned about yourself?