Job’s Comforters

Most of us know the story of Job.

A righteous man, singled out by Satan to be tempted, ends up bereft of his children, his fortune and his health.

Sitting in the dust, scraping the pus from his wounds, three friends join him in his misery.

And they make it worse.

It’s hard to imagine that after burying a child, anything that people say or do can make you feel worse-but it is possible.

I had many friends and family that brought genuine comfort to my spirit.

They were the ones who spoke courage to my battered heart and helped me face another day when all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and pray that the sun refused to shine.  And I will never be able to repay them for that kindness.

But there were others….people who wanted to make sense of a senseless tragedy.

People who wanted to equate the loss of their aged aunt, their job, their (fill in the blank) with the unexpected, sudden loss of my perfectly healthy son.

And some folks kept poking around for details, for tidbits of information surrounding his accident like chickens scratching in the dirt.

Then there were the ones who tried to use human wisdom to fit things into their version of God’s “greater plan”.

It was very painful at first to fend off what felt like attacks.  It was hard to ignore the additional burden of careless words or thoughtless actions.

But at this point in my grief journey I think I’ve figured out some of what motivates people who follow in the footsteps of Job’s comforters.

While I, the one who suffered loss, knew immediately and irrevocably that I WAS NOT IN CONTROLbystanders and onlookers were still trying to preserve the illusion that they were.

They were looking for a clue, for a pattern, for a reason so that they could avoid the same fate.

If it’s possible to map a path to what led to my son’s death, then they will choose a different route.

If danger lurks in one direction, they will head the other way.

And that’s really what Job’s comforters were trying to do-they were attempting to fit Job’s experience into a grid they could understand.

They were struggling to align their concept of God, of righteousness and fairness with what they saw with their own eyes.

Surely Job must be hiding something.

Surely he wasn’t as righteous as he appeared.

Surely bad things don’t happen to good people.

Because, really, if they do, none of us are immune.

If doing the right thing, being careful, being “good” doesn’t protect you, then the world is a much more frightening place than we can imagine.

Believe me-I get it.  Having lost one child, I would do ANYTHING to guarantee that it didn’t happen again.

But newsflash: We are not in control.  We cannot guarantee outcomes.  We do not determine our days.

God does.

And His ways are higher than our ways.  His plan is bigger than mine.

Job asked God, “Why?”

God never answered Job’s questions.

Instead He invited Job to consider the great gap between himself and the God Who made him.

And faced with undeniable evidence,  Job relented:

Then Job replied to the Lord:

 I know that You can do anything
and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who is this who conceals My counsel with ignorance?”
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to[b] know.
You said, “Listen now, and I will speak.
When I question you, you will inform Me.”
I had heard rumors about You,
but now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore I take back my words
and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:1-6 HCSB

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

8 thoughts on “Job’s Comforters”

  1. I can relate to this as many came and were like Job’s friends. I heard it all and then my heart could no longer hear these comments as I did not have the answers to my sons death. I lost many and I think it’s because they couldn’t handle looking in my tear stained eyes and realizing how fragile life really is. I have to trust God in allowing this to happen and that one day He will turn my ashes into beauty. You can’t heal and keep questioning. You have to just put your brokenness in the hands of our Lord and trust in Him. I know I say this in many of my comments, but I sincerely meant, thank you for sharing your heart!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry that was your experience. It is very hard for others to be in the presence of great pain and I really do thing that’s why they fall away. I pray that you have some faithful friends who allow you to speak your heart and share your pain without “correcting” you or your theology.

      Like

  2. Melanie, you have such a gracious way of tackling difficult issues. Your perspective in this post is not unlike what I had already read this morning and also derived encouragement from, in a blog post written in February by Kimberly Henderson.
    Kimberly doesn’t write from a grief perspective but her writings about living as a Christian are so real and so authentic that I’m often deeply blessed by her blog posts:

    https://kdhenderson.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/why-you-cant-keep-lions-on-leashes-for-when-god-doesnt-feel-very-safe/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I lost a son and so did my husband and my son lost his twin brother. Almost a decade has passed and griefs journey continues . As time passes the whys and how I lost him become less significant . I miss him every day that fact never leaves. My Heavenly Father is ever present as my Comforter . Joy as well as sorrow are to be embraced I have learned to walk with both . It is my belief there is no one who does not carry some pain….relief will not be found until journey begins again in heaven . When people ask me how many children I have I say two and make the choice to tell them more as the Spirit leads me. His promises I know and my Father can only do good… So I stop my wanting answers with that simple truth. In the beginning of this journey I wanted God to take me I wanted so badly to hold Micah just one more time… There is never enough time … But I am grateful to be blessed in being his mom for the time God ordained.Just some of my thoughts today after reading yours. Your sister, Nancy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your journey, Nancy. I am sorry that we have both lost sons. I trust that I will also be able to say as years pass that the whys are less troublesome.. And I agree with your observation that everyone carries some pain. Grief has made me much more aware of that. I pray that God continues to give you the strength you need for each day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Boxx Banter and commented:
    Insight on what might unconsciously lead a sincerly sympathetic, well-intended believer to inadvertently join the ranks of Job’s miserable comforters.

    Serious food for thought here as every follower of Jesus Christ does well to examine the motivations of the heart before they speak and act. This is an area with which I personally struggle and it’s complicated by the truth that we are often driven by conflicting motivations. A sincerely righteous desire marred by sinful selfishness – at least in my case.

    I am so thankful that I have the privilege of walking through the valley of the shadow of death with Melanie. It’d be my preference than neither her nor I, or any other parent for that matter, ever find themselves on this path, but this heartbroken mother has served as a blessing and encouragement to me and many other grieving parents. She turns our hearts and minds back to the lover of our souls when our hearts are torn between longing for God’s presence and comfort and a desire to hold Him at arm’s length for failing to intercede and prevent our suffering.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Janet, I wish we were not on this path either-but I am equally grateful for your companionship. It is so very valuable to have believing friends willing to tackle the hard questions grief makes unavoidable.

      Liked by 2 people

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