Warning: Bad things happen to good people! Just ask Job or me!
The Summary of Job
Job is a “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:1, 8 and 2:3). God’s love letter (Bible) is pretty clear that Job always let God drive. He praises God for everything and God blessed Job abundantly, but Satan had other plans. And what happens next is difficult for even the greatest scholars or devoted sisters to stomach.
God points Job out to Satan and permits Satan to take everything away from Job and his wife; their children, their home, their wealth, their status…everything including Job’s health. God told Satan he wasn’t permitted to kill Job. Most would not consider that a blessing nor is it portrayed as such in the book of Job.
My Valley of Job:
My family and I struggle with a multitude of burdens; the heaviest, our daughter’s health. We’ve shared our burdens with our community of faith, requesting prayers and support which we’ve received in ten-fold. We also received some of the same well-intended, yet biblically faulty advice given by Job’s friends. As a counselor, I know faulty beliefs cause extra pain, they feel like hot coals. I also fully admit I am not God, I’ve said some really stupid things to people who are hurt to help or avoid bursting my “happy” bubble. And I’m a trained helper!
WHY??? God was punishing Job (me)…Job (I) could handle it…God was trying to teach or test Job (me)…We all know there must be a reason. Right?
The Bible makes it clear that God was not punishing Job for anything he did. God wasn’t teaching Job a lesson nor did God say that Job would be able to handle everything but death. In fact, what happens to Job really has nothing to do with him personally. Job actually remains blameless throughout, continuing to bless and praise God. Job gets into trouble when he asks God why this happened to him; and God tells Job it is beyond his understanding (Chapters 38-40). Job, his friends and wife (my sisters and I) do not have the authority to speak for God about suffering; or understand it.
- Blame: Just because someone is having a rough time doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t in the driver’s seat. Bad things happen even when you’re in the passenger seat, but it’s not a “no fault” accident. SATAN causes bad things to happen. NOT the victim; NOT God! Reassure our tired, battered sister that it is not their fault, no matter what sins they personally have committed, it’s not all about them. Bad stuff happens to the good, the bad and the ugly (and the beautiful) without prejudice. We all sin. Sinners are blessed (saved) by Jesus despite their sins (grace). The bible actually says the faithful are often more challenged because Satan wages a war on us. We live in a sinful, fallen world. Our prize is not of this world.
- Speak for Yourself, not GOD! Before quoting God, find the chapter and verse. If you can’t remember it, don’t make it up. Just admit, “I don’t know why bad things happen to good people”.
- Speak Love: The bible is a love letter, it says that God loved Job, God loves my sisters, God (Jesus) weeps when we weep and God wants to comfort us.
- Keep It Simple~Speak Truths: Grieving people are rarely looking to join a bible study, nor do they appreciate being hit with scripture or reminded of their blessings (i.e. at least you have another healthy child); they want comfort. They want to know someone understands they are hurt. Just say OUCH! Tell them God knit them together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and understands, even if I don’t.
How depressing! Where is the hope? Where is God during the rough patches?
God did not abandon Job and God will not abandon us. God does not leave or forsake us in our grief. God weeps with and for us. Jesus actually prays for us and the Holy Spirit dwells in us (stays with us).
- Pray: Talk to God with and for your sister. I rarely tell someone I’m going to pray for someone. I usually ask to pray with them; right then and right there. If I receive a request electronically, I respond electronically such as writing out prayer on their Facebook page if they’ve asked for prayers. And I keep praying for them, every time they enter my mind. Matthew 7:7 [Effective Prayer ] “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you”. Not sure what to say:
“God be with my sister, hold her, love her and give her your grace. Amen”
God answer prayers, but like Job, we are not guaranteed to like the answer. Don’t speak for God! Things often get worse before they get better. Telling someone in quick sand that everything will be OK doesn’t help. Stay in the moment, leave the future planning to God. pray that God speaks directly to them, that they will feel the Holy Spirit comforting them.
More Biblically-Correct Loving Support:
- Stay Focused: Ever felt murdered with advice? Everyone has their own story or magical cure. How many other sisters’ pregnancy stories did you hear while pregnant? This is as much as a reminder to me as to anyone else. God promises to use my experiences when the time is right. Why do I insist on wasting time and energy sharing something so personal and precious with someone who isn’t capable of listening? I don’t need the Holy Spirit to tap me on the shoulder for this one. The rule is simple: share my story if/when they ask for it. Or start a blog so they can read it if/when they want. Amen.