“HOW COME IT HURTS SO BAD?”

THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT FOR THIS STUDY IS THE FIRST COUPLE OF CHAPTERS OF JOB. This is not an attempt at a ‘verse-by-verse’ expository study.  It is an effort to look at the events as they are reported and attempt to reach some sensible conclusions.  i invite and will always welcome your own insights.

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       We’ve become aware of Job’s suffering.  But we do not know or understand the reason.  And I KNOW Job didn’t know at the time.  Nor can we gage the impact and depth of his pain.  It is usually that way with the problem of suffering. This is a story of how a man fell from riches to rags because of a sudden, unexpected, chain of events.  He didn’t just fall.  He plummeted.  In less time than it takes for us to recount the series of tragedies which struck him down, he ‘lost it all.’  And he had done nothing to earn such treatment!  Nothing at all!

       I realize I’ve never had (and never expect to have)  vast wealth.  But on a smaller scale, I’ve suffered losses;  the pain and grief of the death of someone whom I’ve loved better than my own life.  I know a bit about how it hurts when someone you love betrays you.  Or disappoints you badly.  I’ve had to deal with financial stress, loss of a career, loss of a business, the frustration of finding my way “home” spiritually.  After a life almost completely free of physical illness I’ve lately had to deal with some health issues that don’t frighten me.  But I don’t enjoy feeling bad, and the “experts” not being able to find and fix the problem.  Nothing I’ve had to face has even close to what Job experienced, you know. . . but those things hurt.  Sometimes very bad.

     To be  completely honest, I have to say much~~ no, probably MOST of what I’ve suffered~~ has been self-inflicted.   Bad decisions.  Stupid mistakes.  Rebellious, selfish acts that sometimes still haunt me.   I’m not even beginning to compare myself with such a noble gentleman as Job, but am just saying on a much smaller, less significant scale: I know a little about suffering.   Even if I cannot find any reason for it, I want learn from Job about how to deal with suffering.  It is not likely that I’ll conclusively open the door to solving the mystery of WHY people suffer.  But I CAN see some ideas which will show me HOW to deal with it.

       Before we feel sorry for ourselves, let’s look at the tsunami of tragedy which swept over Job.  All his children died in one afternoon in a swift succession of calamities.

       In Job 1:13-19, one right after another, crushing blows are laid upon this man: (1.) A messenger comes to Job while all his children were enjoying one of the brother’s birthday party: a swarm of Sabbeans* swept in and stole all his livestock and killed all his employees (slaves, servants) who were at work there.  (2.) With no time to really absorb this blow or evaluate his loss, here comes another servant running, breathing hard and blurting out that there had just been a huge fire which killed all his sheep (might want to add how many) and all his shepherds.  Except the messenger.  (3.) With his mind reeling, trying to assess the extent of that loss and before the slave could finish his gory story, here comes another guy with another horror story:  “Three groups of Chaldeans** just stole all your camels and killed off all the rest of your workforce.  Except one.”  Just that quickly and completely, Job’s massive fortune was wiped out.  His workforce annihilated! Gone! There were no secret offshore accounts. No soft minded politicians on Capitol Hill to bail him out.  And in those days debtor’s prison was a harsh reality.  His wealth was gone with the wind.  But, if Job thought it couldn’t get worse, it did!   Much, much worse.

       Just as unexpectedly, and unwelcome as the first two , another messenger stumbled, gasping for breath and delivering the worst word.  This time with a message no parent ever is prepared to hear. “Your children have been killed!  Every one of them.  Yes.  Every one.”  Every parent KNOWS our children        aren’t supposed to die before we do.  To say this is brutal is to make an incredible understatement of fact!

You don’t have to imagine hard to understand some of the agony Job felt. . . even though that understanding is limited.  The suffering!  A sudden storm had rushed in and crashed the building which fell        and killed all of them. The cruel ferocity of the storm and its consequences were nothing compared with the volcanic emotional eruption which blasted Job’s world apart.  Asking a question, “why does this hurt so bad?” seems irrelevant.  That is probably an easier question than to answer “why” it happened in the first place.  The answer to the first question is is self-evident. The answer to the latter has baffled the best minds who have pondered it.   

I’m still considering Job’s plight.  What has just taken place defies understanding or explanation, but I want to try to bring some light upon the problem of suffering.  Before doing that, though, I want to share something of value that we can apply to our own situations.  This may not be the logical or chronological place to share a discovery and a conclusion.  It isn’t easy.   But it IS OBVIOUS. 

 

Something inside me wants to share something I think is worthwhile at the time it becomes obvious.  If I have something worth while happen to me, I don’t usually wait for a “convenient” time to share it with those who need, or deserve, to know.  I’ll pick up the telephone and let my wife (e.g.) know . . . even before I get home.  We can discuss details, and perhaps make plans, later.  But, if there’s something she needs to know I don’t want her to have to wait till we can have time to discuss and think about it and try to find out more.  

In the case of Job, there is so much, much more for him to face and resolve.  But, before he ‘went to war,’  he had the necessary equipment to face and deal effectively with any challenge. 

Shouldn’t that be a lesson to us?  You AND me?  Life is difficult enough and trials will come.  That is a “given.”  Doesn’t it make immense sense to be prepared?  Does it make any sense at all to wait until you’re in a battle (with bullets whistling over your head and bombs blasting craters driving you closer and closer to panic or despair!)?  If we pepare for everything else, shouldn’t we also make preparation for the crises which are bound to come sooner or later to everyone?

       Can you take a few minutes and think about the statement Job made, even before he could calculate his losses or begin to try to make some sense of what happened?  Stunned, not even yet able to contemplate the possibility of a recovery, here is what he said:***  “I came naked from my mother’s womb.  And I shall have nothing when I die.  The Lord gave me everything I have, and they were His to take away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 

       There.  There it is!  In attempting to understand how this man could withstand such an avalanche of sorrow and not go insane, here is a major clue.   Others, with far less reason.  collapsed in understandable defeated despair, or  frustrated rage.  They simply fell, or got knocked down, and stayed there.  The pain was more than could be borne.

     Before he got buried in horrible circumstances, clearly Job had made a life-altering decision and he wasn’t going to change his mind at this time. It’s apparent to me that he did not wait until he was drowning in a raging river to try to get prepared for any of life’s challenges.

     Nor should we. 

Closing thoughts:  I’m looking at the entire context of Job, and for that reason I probably won’t always be putting up ‘chapter & verse.’  I’m hoping, also, that some of what I write will prompt you to do your own thinking.  Go to the Bible directly and read it for yourself and make it your own.  That’s when you’ll really have your own understanding and not spend your life dependent upon anyone else’s interpretation.  There will be plenty of time to consult commentaries and other secondary sources.  Personally, I’ve identified a site which features another brother’s approach.  I’ll go there soon, but I don’t want any other influences at this point.  I’ll give you the location of that site, shortly.

     God’s servant, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey

*   I don’t know exactly who these people are.  The research I did pointed to a small country apparently close by Job’s home.  I’ll look further into it, but will not digress at the present.  Anyhow, someone took all of Job’s livestock and killed all his workers (probably slaves), except one.

** The Chaldeans were another group of people who lived nearby and who seem to have been identified with the Babylonians.  Borders shifted with the sands, it appears, and it’s hard to draw clear distinctions about who was who.  And where was where.  And then, as now, they seemed always to be fighting each other. 

***  Job 1:21-22 The Living Bible  

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2 responses to ““HOW COME IT HURTS SO BAD?”

  1. Sadly, the world seems to have little care or compassion for hurting hearts. (Job’s own best buds and wife are proof of that!) But thankfully our God is the God of the broken-hearted. Your title, “How Come It Hurts So Bad?” brings to mind Psalm 34:18

    The Lord is near the broken-hearted.

    I believe Job is arguably one of the “hardest” reads in the Bible. And because we get so caught up in the seemingly “unfairness” of it all, we miss some very insightful lessons about keeping our faith and being mindful about judging others (and even ourselves!) when calamity strikes.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record- another thought-provoking study, Don. Thanks.

  2. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the Sabeans were:

    Descendants of Seba (Genesis 10:7); Africans (Isaiah 43:3). They were “men of stature,” and engaged in merchandise (Isaiah 45:14). Their conversion to the Lord was predicted (Psalm 72:10). This word, in Ezek. 23:42, should be read, as in the margin of the Authorized Version, and in the Revised Version, “drunkards.” Another tribe, apparently given to war, is mentioned in Job 1:15.

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