Well, it’s day 4 of my effort to read and blog my way through the Bible, and so far, I’m still on track, praise God! I’m finding it easier to read the next day’s reading the night before so I have a chance to sleep on what I read. Today’s reading jumped from Genesis chapter 11 to Job.
Job’s story is an ancient one that demonstrates the “No Pain/No Gain” principle. Every time I think of Job, I think of my daughter’s experience at last year’s summer camp. She shared with me that she was disappointed because she came in last place in nearly every sport. She felt depressed and discouraged and prayed for God to help her think the way he wanted her to think. She opened her Bible randomly and came to the book of Job. After a few minutes reading, she decided that she wasn’t in a very bad place after all, compared to Job!
I share her sentiments every time I read about Job’s suffering. I confess it is difficult to grasp hold of the concept that suffering can be a good thing. I personally tend to do all sorts of things to stay away from suffering, rather than embracing it and all its pain. There is a reason I am not faithful about working out: I don’t like the pain that comes afterwards! I don’t eat certain things, like tomatoes and oranges and other highly acidic foods because they cause me pain. Sometimes I shut my mouth and choose not to share my faith or my ideas with someone because I don’t want to endure the pain of being brushed aside. Illness is something I fight every day…yea, I’m one of those weirdos who carries hand sanitizer in her purse and whips it out every time I leave a store or other public place where microbes multiply faster than rabbits.
But Job experienced multiple tragedies all in the same day! His entire fortune was wiped out, and all ten of his children were killed in a freak tornado. Then he got sick with oozing sores all over his body…the illness is what broke his silence. I understand the raw honesty of Job’s first breakdown that came after he got sick. When I was pregnant with one of the babies I lost and was suffering every moment of every day with nausea — my panic trigger — I remember staring at the closed blinds in my room and wishing I had never been born. The agony of constant nausea made me wish I was dead. I probably wasn’t far from it due to lack of food (I was down to 78 pounds) and dehydration. So, when I read these words of Job from chapter 3, I can relate:
“1-2Then Job broke the silence. He spoke up and cursed his fate:
3-10 “Obliterate the day I was born. Blank out the night I was conceived!
Let it be a black hole in space.
May God above forget it ever happened.
Erase it from the books!
Yet, God was with me through that storm. He provided a counselor who helped me through the experience and who helped take the pressure off me by some straight talk with my family. He had given me my sweet daughter, who was then 2 years old. She was a beacon of light to my darkness. He gave me a dear sister-in-law, who, though pregnant herself, traveled to my house and stayed with us so she could care for my little girl while I was hospitalized. He gave me a brother who brought me some earplugs so I could drown out the harsh sound of the IV machine and a mother who brought me a new nightgown and a husband who curled up in the hospital bed with me and cried with me when we heard the news that all the suffering was in vain and a miscarriage was underway.
Years after that suffering, I am still learning that God is God. He causes rain to fall and the sun to shine on both the good and the evil…but the rain and the sun are not the point. God’s glory is the point.
Job said it well after he learned his children had died:
21 Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God’s name be ever blessed.
It’s hard to let go and trust God to work everything out for the good, especially when there is such pain and suffering that it’s difficult to see any goodness anywhere. Where is the goodness in my friend Brent’s marriage? Where is the goodness in his broken family? Brent is choosing the Lord over hate. He is worshiping through his pain, and the Lord is transforming him to be more like Jesus. Now THAT is good.
When I had my wisdom teeth out years ago, I developed an infection in one of the sockets. The pain was worse than childbirth. My fever skyrocketed, and I was flat out sick. Before I was able to get to the oral surgeon, I rested on the bed and stopped fighting the pain. Instead, I rode it. Unless you’ve been through that kind of pain it is hard to understand the concept of “riding out” a wave of pain.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book of Job in its entirety, but I have a feeling I’ll be watching as Job “rides out” his pain. And I’ll be watching to see how the old adage, No Pain/No Gain applies to Job…and to me.