Responding to Hurt

The last two weeks have been long with some really high highs and low lows for our family. We’ve had some great highs with our oldest making the Freshman Volleyball team at school. We’ve had some lows saying goodbye to our dog Harley after 13 1/2 years of life. Seasonal allergies have begun to hit hard making for long nights with the youngest. And on top of it all, I’ve been trying to maintain some routine of working out regularly and eating more healthy.

Life continues to be full of obstacles, and blessings. In the midst of these challenges, I have spent time diving into the story and life of Job in the Old Testament. He was a man not unfamiliar with blessing.

There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

Job 1:2-3

Scripture makes it clear that in his time Job was one of the wealthiest men alive. He had experienced great favor from the Lord. Not only was he blessed with children, but he also had a great number of livestock and servants. Scripture also makes it clear that Job possessed a character and devotion to God. In the verses before we see Job feared God, turned from evil and was blameless and upright. His character and integrity were one of holiness. Of greater importance to him than his possessions though was his faith and commitment to the Lord.

This commitment to God was exactly why he is allowed to be inflicted by Satan not once, but twice. It’s the first time he is attacked by Satan that I find most interesting. Job’s response to four messengers reporting tragic news to him demonstrates how deeply rooted his character and integrity were. After learning of the loss of his livestock and his children at the hand of Satan, Job responds in a way Satan did not expect.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:20-21

Job does four things that strike me as significant in the response to hardship. First, upon hearing the devastating news he arose. There is something powerful about getting up in the midst of hardship. It’s easy to stay where you are, to allow the hurt and the disappointment to take hold and swallow you. It takes fortitude to stand up, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It takes strength to take a step forward in the pain. Job seemed to understand something truly powerful; staying where he was in the midst of the pain would not benefit him in any way. He had to get up, he had to do something.

After rising, we see Job express his agony in a way uncommon to us today. Scripture says Job tore his robe and shaved his head. For us today, this may seem extreme. Maybe even a little odd. In Job’s culture tearing one’s robe was how pain and deep agony was expressed. For Job, his robe was also a symbol of status. Job’s action of destroying a highly valuable and symbolic item of clothing was a significant action. It was not done lightly, and signified an outward expression of the deep sorrow and pain he was experiencing internally. Saving ones head was often a sign of repentance. I imagine Job was now wrestling internally with grief, pain, confusion; the questions that must have been swirling around in his head. Trying to understand why his children died. Job’s action of repentance demonstrates his understanding of God’s holiness and his brokenness. Unsure of the reason for this immense loss, Job is quick to repent before the Lord.

Then Job shifts gears, and I’m sure this is where Satan was really caught off guard. Without skipping a beat, Job falls to the ground in worship! Not anger, not bitterness; Job ultimately responds to the tragedy in his life with worship! How often do I face hurt and tragedy in my life on a much smaller scale, and struggle to respond in worship? My bent is to hold onto the hurt, to allow bitterness to take root and grow. Job demonstrates the product of well-grounded character and integrity, a faith deeply rooted in a sovereign God. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t wrestle with real, intense feelings. It means he knows they don’t control him, and makes a conscious decision to worship God. And the best part?

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Job 1:22

Job faced adversity most of us never will. He lost everything in a single day. Despite his experience, and what the world today would say justified turning his back on God, Job stood firm. In the midst of his hurt, he remained faithful.

I’ve walked away from these last two weeks in my own life with a new perspective. I have a fresh understanding of how I can and should walk through my pain. If Job can walk out of losing everything, worshipping God, and being found without sin in his response, so can I. If Job can worship when it hurts, so can I. And in light of the incredible blessings God has shown me, I should. When I face hardship in the future, when the pain feels greater than I think I can handle, let me remember Job’s words of praise.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

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