More than a year ago, John and I planned a boat trip down the Yangtze River. With a nearly unbearable workload over the past months and the extremely stressful situations we've been through recently, I found myself weary and greatly in need of a break. So while in China, we read, watched the river go by, and recuperated.
Following the death of Gracie, our newest grandbaby, I found myself wondering why God had not seemed to answer the multitude of prayers lifted on her behalf (or at least had not answered like we wanted Him to). I decided to read the book of Job to see how he dealt with confusing times. Several things struck me.
- All of the great verses of comfort come from Job and not from his wordy friends (i.e., Job 1:21; 2:10; 13:15a; 14:16,17; 19:25-27). I did not see one quotable passage from his friends. —Lord, give me words of encouragement!
- Job's friends gave poor advice. In times of trouble, we can easily follow the common "wisdom" (like they did), and state things like, "What goes around, comes around"; "You get what you deserve"; "It must be your karma"; etc. It seems to me that Job became more bitter the longer he heard his friends speak. —Oh, Lord, give me gracious words in times of trouble!
- I found Job 7:17-18 compelling: "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?" Job seemed to recognize this as a time of testing, but continued to question. —Lord, give me discernment and understanding in this time
- God never answers Job's (legitimate) question of "why?" When the Lord speaks, He focuses on His work of Creation and His maintenance of it, and declares that Job's questions are "words without knowledge" (38:2). God declares: "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!" (40:2). Job basically says, "I've spoken in the past but no more" (40:4-5). God then states, "Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me" (41:11). —May it be that, like Job, I set aside my question and declare: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted" (42:2). I don't understand but trust that God's plans are for my family's good.
- I wonder if God asked Job to pray for his friends (who had said some really hurtful things) in order to help heal Job's heart. God could have dealt directly with the friends, but He chose to have Job intervene on their behalf (Job 42:7-10). Perhaps God used Job's prayer to soften Job's heart and restore his relationship with his friends. —Lord, may the words I speak help me see my friends as you see them; may my words build up my friends!
- During Job's trouble, his three friends came and sat with him for seven days and seven nights in silence (good). But where were his brothers and sisters? I find it sad that they stayed away during Job's hardship (though they did visit and console him once the Lord made him prosperous again [42:11]). —Lord, make our families strong in our care of one another.
- As a result of Job's loss, he bucked the common culture and granted his three daughters an inheritance along with their brothers (42:15). I find it interesting that these daughters are named, and none of his 14 sons are.
I wonder if Job came to appreciate his new daughters more after the death of his first three daughters (1:2). If so, I could see this as a small good that came out of Job's troubles. All our children are precious (not just the sons, as many cultures around the world seem to believe). —Oh Lord, give me a right perspective on the value of each of my children.
- I love that Job lived to see his children's children to the fourth generation (42:16). May we also have joy in our children's children's children.
Thank you again for your support and encouragement.