Yesterday, my neighbors had a baby. A baby girl. I’ve never seen a more beautiful child.
That may not sound so amazing, but this family has been through… well… way too much. They had more than their share of problems. ( I’m in awe of the dad, and the way he handled everything. )
They had so much … lots of land, livestock, many servants, ten kids. He gave them everything. I am not kidding. When the rest of us wore old cloaks and tunics, his family was always in the finest garments dyed the most amazing colors. Not that I’m jealous or anything. I’m just saying that I noticed.
The dad was considered the greatest man among all our people.
His faith in Yahweh, our God, was evident to everyone. He was always offering sacrifices for “sins” – some said he offered sacrifices even for his children “just in case” they did anything wrong.
Then the unthinkable happened…
His oxen and camels were stolen.
His sheep were struck and burned up by lightening. So random.
He lost it all. No more income. How would he live?
Then some kind of a violent wind swept through his oldest son’s house. It was one of the really nice stone houses. I heard that the walls were very thick! All of his children (they were all grown) were there, having a party. Well, the walls of the house collapsed … killing everyone inside – every one of his children. I know them, er, I knew them. We grew up hanging out together. As we all got older, though, they began running with their high-class friends so we kind of lost contact. But, to be crushed under those heavy stone walls, my heart grieves heavily for each of them!
Then, he got sick. The dad broke out in these horrid, open oozing sores. And, the law clearly states that sick people must separate from healthy people. You know, sickness spreads. No one went near him.
You think, wow, that is really bad; but, you know, everyone has their problems. I have my own issues. I live with stress daily. Always another demand by someone. Problems are a fact of life. Where was I going with this… oh, yeah, my neighbor….
My neighbor, Job is his name by the way, came to sit outside his home and mourn his huge losses. His clothes just hung on his body – he had torn them so much because of his intense grief and pain. Stunned, he just sat out on the ground.
Living so close to their home, I couldn’t help but see and hear everything. During the day, I sit by front window grinding the grain for the next day’s bread. The window is high up, so no one knew that I was there. And I would just hear stuff.
Let me tell you about his wife! She was beside herself. In front of the whole town, she mocked him… she screamed… she yelled. She blamed Job for all the tragedy that came upon their family. ‘Just curse God and die!’ She’d say over and over. Everyone heard her. It was shocking because they were such a God-fearing home. Maybe only Job really had faith.
The news spread about the catastrophe. I think that people were secretly happy that he had fallen on hard times. You know how people can be about other peoples’ successes. Job even became the laughingstock of Uz, our community, as he sat on the ground. No bath, torn clothes, hair all matted. Uz is huge. An oasis in the wilderness, so many merchants and caravans travel through our village. They all knew Job.
His friends, Eliphas, Bildad, and Zophar came over to comfort and sympathize with Job. I saw them … they sat for a week with him, seven days, not saying anything.
Job spoke first. The pain in his voice caused me stop grinding the grain. He hurt so much. He just wanted to die … he cried out “I have no peace, no rest, only (pain and trouble).” (Job 3:26).
I, too, know about no peace and no rest. I, too, wonder why I was born. Why does God allow the struggles that cause me so much distress?
Job’s friends started talking … to give him the very answers that I, too, sought. They talked a lot. They blamed Job, other people, other situations. I could hear them occasionally. I didn’t like what they said but I wrote some of it down.
Job spoke more. I wrote some of his words. I listened with awe at how he dealt with these tragedies. If anyone faced stressful circumstances, Job did.
Stuff happens, but we do have a choice how to handle it. (click to tweet)
Suddenly my worries seemed so small. I do have my problems. Stress is a fact of my life. I don’t know how I will get everything done each day. My family and friends expect so much from me. I wonder if they even notice how much I try.
Amidst his struggles, though, Job kept his faith in God. He really relied on the Lord. I am not kidding, he did not turn his back on God. He could have collapsed and given up. The way he handled his loss… the stress of the burden he carried…
He could have become angry. If anyone had the right to be bitter and get violent… it was Job. Jacob, down the street, did just that when his betrothed (future wife, girlfriend) died. No one knows what really happened. He came to visit and found her dead. Jacob ran out of the house. He tore through the market, knocking over merchants’ tables, sending food and fabrics and coins flying through the air.
Job could have done that. He felt intense pain. Yes. Agonizingly painful. Yet, unlike Jacob, his response was patience and acceptance.
He said .
“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him, (the Lord).” (Job 13:15)
“I know that my Redeemer lives, & that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)
“Who can understand the power of his thunder?” (Job 26:14b)
“My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (23:11-12)
“Where then does wisdom come from? … The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” (28:20, 28)
I feel the stress of life. I am not patient like Job.
I don’t have the solutions …. Solutions to everyone’s problems, or even solutions to my own problems.
Maybe I can take little steps…. Like my neighbor Job.
I will stop and think through the problems and the stresses.
I have my hurts and disappointments. My friends can really hurt me.
I believe that I will depend more upon God. I need to trust that He has a plan. As Job said, “…still I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15)
So, now, Job and his wife have a new baby. I believe that God will bless them with more. Job still has stress in his life…. He has a new baby; his wife just went through childbirth. It was a difficult delivery, very stressful. Not every woman makes it through childbirth.
But, once again, Job showed patience and total trust in God.
Job’s flocks are multiplying, too. I hear they have 14,000 sheep now! Each one born one at a time. Step by step. Little by little. Life doesn’t improve overnight.
Stress is a fact of life.
But, I can choose how to respond to it.
Job taught me how to handle it…
… patiently, one step at a time.
Job taught me how to put my trust in God.
Final Thoughts to Ponder
Where are you on the “Stress Meter”? How is your life compared to the woman of the story?
Are there huge expectations placed on you … By friends? Parents? Co-workers?
Do you have any huge problems looming in your not too distant future?
God does not promise a problem-free life. But He does equip us to work through the issues. He offers peace. He offers encouragement and guidance through His people so we can work through stuff step by step.
There will always be problems. But we have a choice on how to handle them.