Oh, Job!

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July 12, 2013 by lellielieb

Reading through Job this time has been a little like reading through an old journal of my own.  For years I was afraid of Job; now I “get” him, and the amazing thing is that I have come to see this as a good thing.  I’m not saying that my suffering compares to Job’s–his is much more profound and all-encompassing than my own–but I recognize his feelings, his reactions, the turmoil of his soul.  Today’s reading included chapter 30.  There, I found several things with which I could easily identify.

“And now my soul is poured out within me;
    days of affliction have taken hold of me.
 The night racks my bones,
    and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.

One of the things I am most grateful for at this point in my life is SLEEP.  It seemed like there were years on end when I would drag myself through the day and into bed only to sleep for an hour and then toss and turn for the rest of the night.  It was awful.  The thoughts that come to me in the darkness were one of the worst parts of the suffering.  There was no escape.

 With great force my garment is disfigured;
    it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.

I have also experienced a sensation similar to this one.  It’s hard to explain, but my work clothes felt like they were squeezing the life out of me.  All I wanted to do was to get home and put on sweats.  It wasn’t that the clothes didn’t fit–some were baggy–it’s just that I felt squeezed and trapped by the life represented by the clothes.

 God has cast me into the mire,

 and I have become like dust and ashes.

I cry to you for help and you do not answer me;
    I stand, and you only look at me.
 You have turned cruel to me;
    with the might of your hand you persecute me.

Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, and in his disaster cry for help?

This is another aspect of the experience that I remember being surprised about.  As one bad thing after another came into our lives, I felt rejected by God.  I saw myself on the junk heap.  At times I was angry and I felt that God was cruel.  Still, in my misery, cowering under the ruins of my life: under the rejection, and the job loss, the cancer and the financial struggles, I still reached out a hand and begged God for help. He never let me lie there under the heap having given up.  Grace always provided a glimmer of hope. Besides, who else was I going to go to?

 Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
    Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
 But when I hoped for good, evil came,
    and when I waited for light, darkness came.
 My inward parts are in turmoil and never still;
    days of affliction come to meet me.

I, like Job, did a lot of soul-searching.  I looked back on my life and thought about my reactions to others who had been in situations similar to mine.  I knew there were times when I could have done more to help, but I also knew I had prayed and cared for them.  I looked back on my hopes and dreams, my plans and aspirations, and I grieved for all that was not to be.  My thoughts were in a constant whirl.  I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking.  It seemed like the days rushed at me, each one with new pain to inflict.

This would be depressing, except that now it is past.  Now I know that there IS another side to suffering.  I am sure that before my life is over, suffering will come again, maybe today, but my perspective will be different.  I’ve learned.  I know that God is greater than my problems and my pain.  I know He loves me.  I know that He is good.  I’m looking forward to finishing this book and seeing Job get there, too. It’s not a “happily ever after” sort of ending. In fact, that’s not the way I want my story to end any more.  I think I prefer, “And she lived loved by and satisfied in Jesus ever after.”  Yep.

 

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