This was my question for the Holy Spirit when I sat down and stared at the blank document. I knew what I wanted to write about. But, the opening evaded me. I prayed, “Holy Spirit lead me.”
I sat in silence for a moment. Then a thought as quiet as a breath wandered in… “Why not right there.”
Where do I start? In a journey, we start at the beginning. We may know the endpoint but there is always the first step. We don’t know where the journey will take us. This is where I am with Job. We begin a painful journey together.
I have been struggling with pain and sensitivity this week. It has been a tough spring with pollen, storms and intense sunlight. When summer arrived last week, the morning weatherman announced “maximum sun and maximum heat!” In a cheerful voice, he detailed high UV and heat indexes.
I thought, “Great, I’m living inside today.” Heat and UV are two of my migraine triggers. I figured it was time to reread Job Chapter two.
God has allowed the adversary (Satan) to take everything away from Job including his health. The only limit is the adversary could not take Job’s life. As far as we know Job is not aware of the spiritual battle surrounding him. The adversary issues the second challenge:
“Yet, put forth, I pray Thee, Thy hand, and strike unto his bone and unto his flesh — if not: unto Thy face he doth bless Thee!’” [Job 2:5 Young’s Literal Translation* (YLT)]
In my mind the adversary throws down the gauntlet before God Almighty saying, if you don’t allow him to feel physical pain, he will continue to bless you!
Now I find Job sitting in ashes and grief. He shaved his head and ulcers cover his body. His wife approaches him: “And his wife saith to him, `Still thou art keeping hold on thine integrity: bless God and die.’” [Job 2:9 YLT]
His own wife tells him to give up and die! When his family died, why did she survive? Is she not thankful for her life? She has the choice to encourage or discourage. Did she care? There are no answers for me. I’m just wondering…
Three of Job’s friends; Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar hear of his misfortune. They travel to see him and to offer comfort. When they find him they weep and join him sitting in the dust. Seeing his pain they had no words. They said nothing as they sat with him for seven days and seven nights. Then Job breaks the silence: “After this hath Job opened his mouth and revileth his day.” [Job 2:9 YLT]
In chapter three I hear Job cry out in pain. He wonders why he was born. Why he is alive and suffering. Job feels like those who wait for death. He has lost sight of his path and feels shut down by God. All that he feared has happened. Job does not feel safe or at ease. Trouble had come to him and he does not know why.
I remember feeling like this when the chronic daily headaches started over fifteen years ago. After battling the pain for thirty days straight I called an internal medicine doctor. He sent me for a CAT Scan. We praised God that there were no tumors. But, I was still in pain with no answers.
Like Job, I called out to God. Why me? What is my purpose if I can barely get through the day? I was still young (my early forties) and active. Why was I just surviving? For a long time, I had no dreams. I searched for answers while I struggled to get through each day.
Why? Job cried. I recognize that cry. Just like Job I know pain so intense that you can’t get up off the ground and talk to your friends. Job didn’t receive the answer at the beginning. Neither have I. This is where I connect with Job today. In the beginning, we feel confused and hurting.
Job has taken me back to where my physical pain began. Reminded me of what it is like to start a difficult journey. A journey we have to take because there is no other choice. He also reminds me I am not wrong to ask why. And that God is not wrong in not revealing the answer.
I have learned to trust God whether or not I understand. I know this, my God is bigger than my trouble. He knows when I am hurting and He comforts me. I can lean on Him. Just knowing that takes the sharp edge off the throbbing.
Life isn’t fair and our world isn’t perfect. We ask, “so where do I start?” At the beginning. My last post began with pain introduced into our realm. Job’s story starts with his physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. Going back to the beginning of my pain deepens my trust in God. I have found only He can bear fruit from pain. My hope is to encourage you to keep walking close to God. There is no journey here without pain. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God and ask him your questions as you walk with him on your path. He loves us.
*A close friend of mine who can read Hebrew told me to look at Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) for this passage. The word used in the King James, New King James, and New American Standard Bibles uses the word ‘curse.’ But YLT translates the original Hebrew word here as ‘bless.’ I found I understood the passage better with this translation.