When I opened my bible today, I saw the story of Job. His life was certainly one of suffering. Job was a good servant of God. There is no doubt about that. As the devil weaves in suffering to Job’s life, Job continues to serve God. Job chooses kindness, respect, and most of all he embraces change. Don’t get me wrong though, there was a lot of anger before the change began to unfold.
Suffering always causes change. Job’s suffering was not without considerable lamenting. Trust me on that one. Job and his friends go back and forth for about 30 chapters.
Job is angry and filled with distrust of God’s plan for him. Job’s friends try to support him through the suffering, but end up finding ways to help Job explain why it was all happening. “What have you done, Job?” They figured Job had done something to put him in a bad relationship with God. Why else would he have such tragic events happen to him?
This back and forth banter reminds me of an ugly facebook post. Job says one thing, and his friends each take turns saying something back. It is a post that seems to go on and on. I probably would have hidden it from my feed. Job’s friends are anything but supportive. They egg him on. They produce more anger within Job. They consistently show their lack of understanding of Job’s struggles. They force Job to defend himself.
After much bantering, in steps Elihu. Elihu stops Job and his friends immediately in their tracks. He basically calls them all out. He calls out the friends for condemning Job, and he calls out Job for saying he did nothing to endure such suffering.
Elihu knows that Job must bear the suffering to become a better version of himself. God has given Job this opportunity to grow in his faith, and Job is taking it for granted. Job is trying to explain to his friends that he is blameless, and in turn exults himself instead of exulting God. Job by shouting his own innocence is deterring from God’s message that Job can conquer suffering by embracing God’s Will.
Job could choose to be angry and continue to prove his innocence or he could choose to respect God’s Will and endure the pain. This would require Job accepting that others may always point to his suffering as his obvious sinfulness toward God. Humility or Pride?
He could choose to be angry at God or he could choose to embrace the suffering and respect that life would change. In turn, Job would have to accept that God’s Will was more important than Job’s own will.
We all know that Job ends up embracing change. He chooses kindness toward God’s plan, and opens himself up to humility, bowing to God’s change.
This made Job very different than most people. Job knew he was different, yet embraced sameness. He did not lift up his problems any longer as bigger or more unfortunate than others. He accepted that God had a plan, and he was open to it. No matter what. No matter if it makes him look bad in the eyes of others. Job would be open to people’s whispers and gossip about this life.
I think we all like to be seen as different. I mean God made us all unique for a reason right? But why can we not see our sameness?
Differences create loneliness.
Sameness creates community.
It is easy to say we are all in a different boat today in this pandemic situation. After all, we see this post all over social media. We aren’t in the same boat… That isn’t wrong, but what does that give us?
It makes the loneliness of this isolation seem even more lonely. Once Job accepted his sameness, his loneliness disappeared. He felt loved.
For some reason it seems difficult for us to unite in our suffering. We love to lift up our suffering as more intense than others. Yet do we recognize that it takes us down a deep hole of loneliness when we do this?
We say, you can’t possible understand what I am going through. You can’t possibly understand my circumstances. Why am I being persecuted and others are not?
This sort of internal messaging sends us into depression.
When we are able to be kind, choose respect, and embrace change, things happen.
We begin to see that there are others around us who are suffering, just like us. We begin to empathize with others circumstances. We begin to see things more clearly, lovingly even. We are able to embrace change and God’s will. We stop searching for blame and begin to understand humility.
Job was a great model for all of us during tremendous suffering. Sure, we can go through the “woe-is-me” dilemma. We can talk to our friends. We can banter back and forth on facebook as to who is right and who is wrong. In the end, we have to choose change. That is hard. It certainly is humbling.
So, we have a choice….
We can all choose to shout our opinions and stand our ground for what is right in our own eyes. We can banter back and forth about who is to blame for this suffering. We can choose to ignore others and tell them to mind their own business. That is our freedom, right?
We can be kind. Choose respect. Embrace the change.