I am currently reading the Bible – ostensibly in ninety days, though if not I'll be thankful to get through it in any amount of days.
The Old Testament is difficult for many reasons. I thought I could handle it on my own, but the need for a place to ask questions and vocalize frustrations and delight in revelation arose shortly, so I joined my mother's small group.
These women have all played instrumental roles in my development as a woman- and I am blessed to have had so many mothers. Now, I am honored to have them as my own friends. They are a fierce, wise, funny, and deeply loving group and I just feel better knowing that as I go about my day, I've got them in my corner.
I have a terribly hard time with the story of Job.
It is not easy.
God uses him to get the best of the devil. In doing so, he destroys Job's life – almost literally, to the point where it would have been easier to have his OWN life obliterated, but instead God allowed for the deaths of Job's wife and children.
My biggest issue with this is that in the end, for his trouble, God basically replaces Job's family with a new one.
This is supposed to make everything okay?
Perhaps it doesn't need to be just- the whole point is that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and he doesn't just taketh away from The Bad Guys, he does it from the Good Ones, too. HE alone is, in the words of GW Bush, The Decider, and doesn't owe anyone anything.
So that is hard for me- and a lesson no one likes learning, that bad things can happen to good people. But specifically, Job's family was wrenched from him during the hardest time in his life – in ANYONE'S life!- and he mourned for them. He rent his clothes and he wept and he did what we would all do- he hurt. He probably felt like he was on fire for months on end. I bet he felt that his insides- his very being- was charred to delicate, worthless ash, vulnerable to collapse at the slightest provocation. When his know-it-all friends came to console him and dole out their advice, he probably stared at a spot over their shoulders to avoid making eye contact and nodded feebly to appease them.
Job probably couldn't sleep- or when he did, he would sleep for days, with no reason to open his eyes in the morning. He had no discernible reason to remember to breathe.
And “the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before...The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters...Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers” (Job 41:10-15).
See, what I want to know is, what if Job missed his first kids?
In this whole story, that's what hurts me the most.
I'm sure the second set of three daughters were lovely girls, but what if the first three were his joy? What if the middle one brought him daisies in the morning, and left them near his hand before he awoke. And what if the eldest moved gracefully: the kind of light movement that makes you realize the beauty and value of living creatures when it catches your eye? What if his youngest daughter, his baby girl, had an endearing sneeze? And every time his second-round of daughters would sneeze on spring days, a sharp shooting pain would rupture something in Job's heart, and wrench him from a good day into a cloud of sad remembrance?
Did he view the new family as a replacement? And how far did he have to fall before he let it all go and in return, was granted the tools to help him recover?
A more secular rendering of this story is found in the axiom oft-quoted by the eternally heartbroken and woebegone Facebook generation: sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
What do we need to let go before we can start rebuilding? Can we only start the process by fully letting go and welcoming the “replacements” - or do we have to be ready to view all respective replacements as not replacements at all, but the end prize: the real goal all along.
I wonder if Job would have said, “God bless the broken road, that led me straight to you,” or if he'd felt finally complete in joy.
Waiting for the better thing to fall together.