4 minutes reading time (715 words)
Job - Suffering Through Loss
I remember where I was standing when I got the phone call in July 2007. Our daughter-in-law, Erin, was in a coma in the Huntsville hospital ICU after a boating accident on Wheeler Dam Lake. We rushed to the hospital.
For the next two weeks, our schedules revolved around the ICU visitation schedule, discussions with doctors, phone calls, visits from family and friends, prayer circles. Hope rose as plans for surgeries were made. There was a transfer to Erlanger in Chattanooga, then pneumonia and her passing. 700 people attended her funeral.
A few months later I went to see our son, Jason, in Denver where he was living and working. We went to worship together, and the church was singing 'How Great Thou Art'. I looked over and noticed Jason wasn't singing and I stopped singing too.
How much do you know about sudden loss? Or caring for someone you love that has suffered sudden loss? Are you equipped to comfort others in their loss? What can we learn from Job that will help us on our journey?
Some of you who are reading Job or this blog will be reminded of losses that you have recently suffered. I pray God's comfort and healing for you and your family. I don't feel adequate to say or do anything that would properly address your loss or questions about why we must endure such suffering. The three friends that come to visit Job sit with him in silence for seven days. It was a good beginning. But they go on to suggest multiple reasons why Job must be guilty of something to deserve these circumstances. For a stark contrast, see Jesus's response to the disciples who inquire about a man's blindness in John chapter 9. In Job chapter 42, God is angry with the three friends and instructs his servant, Job, to pray for them.
Grief counselors like Dr. Virgil Fry, Chaplain at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, talk about the importance of being present and listening. (His book, Disrupted: Finding God in Illness and Loss was helpful to us.) We appreciated everyone who came to the hospital or reached out in multiple different ways. Some people were more helpful than others. As an example, it was not helpful when people would offer snippets of their own theology. You treasure conversations and community with others who had lost loved ones.
God's response to Job's requests for answers is found in chapters 38-41. God does not provide a direct answer for Job. Instead, in beautiful images, He reminds us that He is the creator of the universe: "where were you (Job) when I laid the earth's foundation . . . have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place?"
Similarly, it is humbling to get away from the city lights and gaze up at the Milky Way, or consider how the world was brought to a halt by a virus, or witness the devotion of individuals to loved ones who are suffering from dementia. It must have been terrifying for Job to receive this message from God in a thunderstorm, but it gave him fresh perspective and set the stage for the next chapter of his life with many blessings. Let it be so with all of us.
In 2010, Jason, our son, married Melissa, a beautiful person of faith and they have three small children. The 2-year old and her Dad got into the car recently and Jason asked what song shall we listen to? "Play 'de Light' Daddy, de Light," she said. DC Talk's "In the Light" surrounds them:
I wanna be in the light as you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my light and be my salvation
All I want is to be in the light
The lyrics from this song and the words of Jesus remind us we are all children of the Light, walking toward the Light. Along the way we all, some more than others, like Job, encounter dark and stormy times. If you are honored to walk beside someone who is suffering through loss, remember that just being present is often more important than words.
Continue to trust God and keep walking toward the Light.
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