What do you do when your stable world filled with a large happy family, abundance, and goodness is suddenly shattered? What happens when one tragedy after another strikes and you lose everything you’ve cherished, including your health? How do you even have the will to live? How do you move forward? This pandemic has brought about all kinds of losses to all of us, some facing so much more than others. People have to deal with the loss of loved ones, loss of work, loss of income, loss of business, loss of health, loss of friends. The future seems bleak to many who are now unemployed and have been reduced to a hand-to-mouth existence and even starvation.
In times like these, I turn to the Bible for hope and light in dark times. The story of Job gives some perspective on how to go forward when one’s world gets shattered. Job was a very wealthy man owning thousands of profitable animals and many servants. He had a large family, having 7 sons and 3 daughters who were close to each other. But his outstanding quality was not his wealth and family but his being God-fearing and upright in his life that was given to generosity and humility. However, tragedy struck one after another. Marauders took his donkeys and killed his servants. Lightning struck and set a fire that burned the sheep and the servants tending the sheep. A whirlwind struck the house where all his children were celebrating the eldest’s birthday and killed all of them. All of a sudden, Job’s bright world became grim. What was his response to all these? He worshipped!!! His reason? “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
If losing all was not enough, Job then developed painful and ugly-looking sores all over his body. His wife told him to curse God and die! What was his response to his wife’s advice?
“You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Wow! As time and his suffering went on, he had this roller-coaster of emotions. He wished he was never born at all. His friends who came to supposedly comfort him started their discourse that Job may have some hidden sin to reap and deserve his untold suffering since God is just and fair. Being with such miserable comforters who accused Job instead of listening in silence as he vented his feelings, he turned to God instead with his questions.
God did not answer Job’s questions. Rather, He went to great lengths describing the complexity, the minute details of His creation, and creatures that nothing escapes His oversight. He is infinitely greater than we can even think or imagine, while we have a very limited view of things and life as a whole. What was Job’s response to God? ” . . . I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me . . . I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:3-6)
How did Job develop such truth-uttering responses to tragedies without giving in to despair and lifting his fist at God? His responses reflected a long and abiding trust in and relationship with God that stayed with him even in bad times. Sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what we see around us. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. It takes a personal, experiential relationship with God to know that God is good, fair, just, and loving, and this truth does not change even when painful tragedies happen. Researchers and clinicians in the last three decades have documented that religion, spirituality, and God-connectedness are important ways to cope with trauma, stress, sickness, death, and in resiliency in the face of tragedy. In times like these, when we are at the end of our rope, turning to God and seriously seeking Him is not a bad idea, it may be the only idea that will work in our troubled times!
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