By Pastor Nathan Richardson Heartland Community Church, La Porte City
Grief and Loss
Job had everything anyone could ever want. He was wealthy; 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 donkeys. He had a great wife and ten children. Job 1:8 says, “No one on earth is like him, he is blameless and upright, he fears God and shuns evil.
Satan says to God, “but stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face.” In other words, it is easy to worship when things are good. So God puts “everything in your hands, but on the man himself, do not lay a finger.”
Satan kills all his animals and each of his ten children. Job responds through mourning and worship. Mourning and worship are two powerfully emotional reactions. It bares all. I wonder how I might respond if I were in Job’s shoes. How would you react?
In Italy, a widow would wear black for the rest of their lives in mourning. Queen Victoria, after her husband Prince Albert died, kept his bedroom the same. The bed’s linen’s were changed daily, his clothes were laid on his bed each morning and the water was prepared for him to shave. Can you imagine being the servant doing this every morning?
Satan approached God again in Job 2:4, “a man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones and he will surely curse you to his face.” Satan inflicted Job with “painful sores, from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.”
Even Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die.” However, Job responded by “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” His friends blamed his sin. Yet Job was innocent and blameless. It was unfair what was happening to him. We all experience loss. None of us are exempt from it. We age, we move, lose jobs, people die, experience divorce, sickness, infertility, abuse, miscarriage, etc. Life is unfair. So how do we learn to deal with the unfair?
There are three lessons we can learn from Job. The first is to pay attention to our emotions. Job screamed pain, shouted at God, he doubted and told God exactly how he felt. Do not ignore your feelings. There is a process and we cannot overlook the emotions.
The Bible is full of emotions. King David wrote Psalms with his heart on his sleeve. Lamentation is all about a guy complaining. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died. He also cried when he looked over Israel. We have trouble expressing ourselves. The problem with holding in our emotions is that we end up with “leaking Christians.” Leaking shows our unhealthy realities through passive aggressive actions, sarcasm and tone. Leaking leads us to ignoring and the silent treatment. We need to learn not to be a leaking Christian.
Second, we learn to wait in the confusing in between. Waiting is difficult. We are not sure how long Job waited in this period but a lot of people were telling Job how to react to God during this time and it seems like God was silent. God did not speak until chapter 38. It must have been hard for Job to wait. Was his faith affected? Did he doubt? Of course he did.
Finally we learn to embrace our limits. Our bodies can only do so much. Our family of origin impacts the way we grow up and learn to deal with life. We are impacted by marital status, intellect, talent, wealth, time, etc. When we are unable to embrace our limits we push ourselves to hard and many end in burnout.
Take time to grieve. Learn to have healthy expectations of ourselves and others. Stay humble. Everyone goes through struggles but we try to compare our struggles with everyone’s highlight real and that is unrealistic. It you are having trouble through grief reach out to a friend, pastor or even a counselor. No one should ever try to process it alone.