I said I was starting a study on pain. Well, I admit this week I have procrastinated. The Lord has no desire to harm me but I am dragging my feet anyway.
I remember trailing behind my mom kicking at stones in the path. She’d say “C’mon, you’ll enjoy yourself.”
I’d mutter, “Yeah right. I was having fun playing the princess when we had to go to church.”
Mom now would have with her hands on her hips. “You like Sunday School. Hurry or we’ll be late.”
Once inside, I’d settle in with a friend and enjoy myself. Then there was the potluck afterward and chatting with friends. Yum and Fun! The bad mood dispelled and dissolved into something special.
Right now my attitude toward pain is dark and raw. There is a sore spot I don’t want to rub. I want to ignore it and enjoy my writing and stuff.
But, I see the Holy Spirit on the path ahead. The path does not look inviting. In my mind’s eye, there is a barely worn path leading into a dense forest. My Guide stands farther down the path with a crooked walking stick, a backpack and a cap pulled low over his brow. He waves me forward.
With the image fresh in my mind, I frowned. Picking up my Bible I opened it to the Book of Job. This time I saw my feet clad in hiking boots step forward. I kicked a piece of gravel down the road. My Guide called out, “Let’s go. Don’t be afraid. I am here with you.”
I took a deep breath and opened my Bible to Chapter 1. This chapter describes the adversary’s* petition before God and Job’s first trial. God allows the adversary to take all that Job has but states, “… only do not lay a hand upon his person.” [see Job 1:12]
In verses 13–19 the adversary takes everything away, Job’s livelihood and children. Verses 20-21 describe Job’s grief:
“Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair. He cast himself prostrate on the ground, and said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall go back again.” The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Verse 22 states:
“In all this Job did not sin nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.”
I am sure all of us have felt the pain of grief. For me, it tears at the soul and aches deep in my chest. My head pounds and I want the person I have lost so much that it is hard to breathe.
But how many of us bless God in our first pains of grief? I must confess I have not. I ask God why and become angry at the hurt and loss. Hostile forces took Job’s oxen, asses, camels, and killed his employees. Lightening and storms wiped out his sheep, shepherds, and children.
Grief overcomes Job. The difference is Job does not allow the emotion to turn him against God, he states the truth. God was the one who gave him everything. He ends his lamentation by blessing God’s name.
When my sister died, it was a senseless act. At the time, I didn’t bless God. After healing from the trauma of her death, I learned to praise him for his mercy to my sister and my family.
Last year when my dad died, I mourned for the lack of a full connection with him. I released my grief by thanking God for taking dad away from the misery of losing his mind bit by bit.
Did God want us to be reconciled here on earth? Of course, He did. I know that in my soul. Did I take steps to reconcile with my father? Yes. In the last few years, I extended my hand to my father whenever given the chance. He slapped it away in defiance and pride. My dad didn’t need me or anybody.
Does it still hurt? Yes, it does. God comforted me in the last several months of dad life. There we found some lucid moments where dad took my extended hand and held it before pushing it away again. He could not get past his pride to reconcile with me. I hold on to the fact that he tried.
Dad suffered from dementia for less than a year. It is a blessing to a man whose pride was in his ability to think and fix things. He did not spend years losing his mind.
The day my dad died, I could shove past my grief and thank God for blessing dad and me by taking him from this world so quickly. The lesson of Job has taught me to bless and praise God while still in pain.
Having everything taken away from Job was not what God wanted. We have been given Job’s wisdom for a reason. Job cried out the truth and blessed God’s name. It is a life lesson for us to cry out in the pain of grief. “… blessed be the name of the Lord!”
I’m picking up my feet sprinting towards the next lesson in the books of Genesis and Job! More to come. Blessings,
P.S. References are from the New American Bible Revised Edition.