I just finished reading the Book of Job.
I whine and complain about a frustration with a client. Or a disappointing comment from a friend. Or a schedule that is interrupted by the unexpected—usually by people.
And then I read about Job.
“This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil…He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”
Job doesn’t sound like someone who needed to be taught a good lesson.
But here is what he dealt with…
His oxen and donkeys were attacked and killed by some horrible people.
His sheep were destroyed by a fire that fell from the sky.
His camels were carried off by another group of hoodlums.
His servants were killed.
And then the ultimate act of horror…
His ten children were killed when the roof of the house they were in collapsed on them.
The Bible says, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship…In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
It is really hard to get my head around Job’s response. His ten children died in one afternoon. His sorrow had to be gut-wrenching. And he fell on his knees and worshipped God. Amazing.
Here’s what I find interesting about how this story continues…
Much of this book focuses on the conversations between Job and his friends, as they try to console and support him. His friends first responded to Job’s great sorrow and tragedy with sympathy. But as time goes on, they try and figure it out, explain it. They want to understand “why” Job is suffering. The result? Job feels condemned instead of comforted.
It makes me wonder if I ever respond to my Girlfriends’ pain as Job’s friends did. In my desire to make my friend feel better, do I too quickly go to “fixing it” and “explaining it” – rather than just being present? Is my interest in wanting her to feel better really selfishly motivated – I want to feel better? (And I can’t feel better until she feels better?)
My question today: how should I respond to the sadness and overwhelming challenges my friends experience? What is the best way for me to support them? What am I trying to accomplish through my words and actions?
Hmmm…more to come on Friday…