(Adapted from a true story…)

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 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 every day. 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 house and mourn his losses. His clothes just hung on his body. He had torn them out 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 the front window to grind 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 it over and over. Everyone heard her. It was shocking because they were such a God-fearing house. Maybe only Job had the faith.

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 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 to 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?

Then Job’s friends started talking. They gave 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.

Job spoke more. I was awed by his words. If anyone faced stressful circumstances, Job did.

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 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 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. His pain was intense. Yes. Agonizingly painful. Yet, unlike Jacob, his response was patience and acceptance.

He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). “Who can understand the power of his thunder?” (Job 26:14b). “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, not for my problems or for anyone else’s .

Maybe I can take little steps…. Like my neighbor Job. I can stop and think through the problems, the stresses. Stuff happens, but we do have a choice how to handle it.

I believe that I can 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. 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.

God does not promise a problem-free life. But He does guide us to work through 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 always have a choice on how to handle them.

Photo credit: . SantiMB . via photopin cc

Sharon Hoover
Sharon R Hoover writes devotional and inspirational works for all who are exploring and growing in the journey of faith. Her passions for education and global issues led her from being a high school teacher to a Middle East analyst and then to serving in the church. Through writing and speaking, she encourages women as they seek God in life, in play, in family, and in work. Sharon’s first book, Soul Motive to Pray, is a personal retreat workbook to encourage deeper conversations with the Lord. She enjoys connecting with local and global outreach partners in her position as Director of Missions at Centreville Presbyterian Church. She lives with her husband, and occasionally-visiting college children, in the suburbs of northern Virginia. Connect with Sharon on the discipleship site Soul Motive and her Personal Blog. You can follow her also on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook.
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