[May 30, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
“For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant. (Job 14:7-9 ESV)
Job’s desperate lament to God is unspeakably beautiful and moving for those who have ever felt like they would rather be dead than have to endure the pain and grief they are suffering.
Job is a model for us is so many ways. He shows us how we may express the fullness of our aching hearts to God:
“I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why you contend against me.
Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?
Have you eyes of flesh?
Do you see as man sees?
Are your days as the days of man,
or your years as a man’s years,
that you seek out my iniquity
and search for my sin,
although you know that I am not guilty,
and there is none to deliver out of your hand? (Job 10:1-7 ESV)
And Job also shows us how we may reply to the counselors who oh-so-well-meaningly give us proverbs of ashes:
“He who withholds kindness from a friend
forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed,
as torrential streams that pass away,
which are dark with ice,
and where the snow hides itself.
When they melt, they disappear;
when it is hot, they vanish from their place….
For you have now become nothing;
you see my calamity and are afraid….
“Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have gone astray.
How forceful are upright words!
But what does reproof from you reprove?
Do you think that you can reprove words,
when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
You would even cast lots over the fatherless,
and bargain over your friend.
“But now, be pleased to look at me,
for I will not lie to your face.
Please turn; let no injustice be done.
Turn now; my vindication is at stake.
Is there any injustice on my tongue?
Cannot my palate discern the cause of calamity? (Job 6:14-17, 21, 24-30 ESV)
And this is my favourite:
“Behold, my eye has seen all this,
my ear has heard and understood it.
What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
But I would speak to the Almighty,
and I desire to argue my case with God.
As for you, you whitewash with lies;
worthless physicians are you all.
Oh that you would keep silent,
and it would be your wisdom!
Hear now my argument
and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
Will you speak falsely for God
and speak deceitfully for him?
Will you show partiality toward him?
Will you plead the case for God?
Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man?
He will surely rebuke you
if in secret you show partiality.
Will not his majesty terrify you,
and the dread of him fall upon you?
Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses are defenses of clay. (Job 13:1-12 ESV)
[May 30, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to May 30, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to May 30, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to May 30, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (May 30, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
15 thoughts on “Job shows us how we may respond to suffering”
Thank you for posting these particular portions from JOB. A wonderful reminder, yet again, that God sees it all — vindication will come. 🙂
Why is the first section still so painfully true? The feelings of weakness and hopelessness…. Some days the pain of (everlasting) hurt from adult children who seemingly still can’t see the abuse they were raised around is SO hard to bear. And what DOES feel like abandonment from God as the ex makes money and lives very well with a spouse that had much already. And children in their 30s who still don’t see the consequences (in many arenas) reaped by being a stay-at-home mom. A gamble that is devastating sometimes on a financial level when the marriage ends. To comment on another post this week, I don’t believe that parental alienation is a myth — not for older minors who can’t be brought with you when you have the courage to flee the abuse. Children who can be convinced that you just abandoned them without clarification from the parent still there.
Yes, some days I loathe my life. Picking myself up mentally (breakdown residuals seem to last a long time) and the Everest mountain of financially has it’s own long term consequence. Understanding and true (not just mouthed) love from adult children would be huge. We all are not fortunate enough to have this after loss upon loss.
I have had many losses in my lifetime. I lost my grandson to “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”, I lost the only man who truly loved me to a heart attack at age 29, I have a son who hasn’t spoken to me in over 2 years. I have had more than my fair share of abusive relationships. I have 2 children who are unbelievers and feel sorrow for them each and every day. I know what it feels like to think that God doesn’t care and He is punishing me for ever being born. I wanted to die for almost 2 years not so very long ago, but you are a strong woman in Christ and He is listening. God will show His glory, but it is always in His time. Sarah waited so long to have a baby that when she was told that she would have one she laughed it off as a joke.
I believe I read this on this blog just yesterday, but it is worth repeating and I am paraphrasing. His (your X) comfort and finances just may be a jail cell although luxurious a jail cell nonetheless. It is holding him in his sin of unrepentance and thinking he does not need God, because he has everything. That cell door will open some day and when he enters into eternity to remember that he didn’t need God for the duration, who will be better off? You may not have much right now and parental alienation is totally alive and well today, but there is strength in the Lord. One day a door will open for you also. It will be to a beautiful city where our Savior’s light will shine forever. When you are feeling low, think of eternity. Life in the flesh is temporary, but eternity for those who believe is amazing. Don’t give up, pray for your children’s understanding. Sit down and talk to them, let them know how you feel. I’m sure you probably have, but it is worth repeating. (((((HUGE HUG))))) and know my prayers are with you.
Thanks for this, Barb. We need to be reminded of Job from time to time. Our trunk may be dead and burned out, but with the Living Water of Christ we can sprout right back up again and be bigger and stronger than ever before.
I wish God would do these things now. I wonder how much pain I can actually withstand.
I have asked myself the same question in the past and have to admit that at times I wished that I could be like Sybil so that I could be someone else when the worst of times got worse and would not remember what had actually happened. I am sorry that I don’t remember what your situation is right now, but in Christ all things are possible in any situation. I know it can be hard and the feeling of hopelessness can take over, don’t let it. Ask God for strength, to mend the brokenness in your heart, meditate on His word. Continue to battle and resist the temptation to give up. Allow God to mend your heart and be all things to you. God feeds the sparrow and He will take care of you.
I realize that we are not being tortured for the cause of Christ. But, we are battling evil and Jesus was tortured, died and came back from the grave for us. Look to His strength and know that he will give you the same. I think Job is a portrait of this. We can endure and be restored. God LOVES you, you are His child and He has no orphans.
Good words, thank you. I am feeling very weak lately, not sure I can do this. But it feels like the alternative is emotional death. As my counselor says, bed of nails or bed of coals.
(Short version of my story: Married for almost 20 years, husband currently begrudgingly out of the house after the latest discovery that he’d been drinking again. Trying to sort out what’s true about my relationship while caring for my kids. Dealing with tremendous anxiety and fear.)
Marah, tank you for giving me the short version. I have medical issues and my memory is not so great either.
Baby steps, Marah. It took me 3 years of asking God to work on me before I really began to come out of the fog and say “No More”. It won’t happen over night. Allow yourself time. It is not easy to overcome 20 years of the slow death that we go through. I also had over 20 years into the farce I called marriage. I now can look back and say, he never loved me, he did not know me and never wanted to.
It is so great that your kids see things clearly and are there for you. Many don’t have that luxury. You are blessed and a beloved daughter of God.
BeenThereDoneThat, Marah, Brenda R — I appreciate your transparency in admitting your weakness and utter dependence on Jesus Christ for emotional and physical strength in order to cope with each moment of the day.
Many years ago, I finally had to admit that I was chasing a dream of my husband ever truly honouring the marriage vows. Three young children at the time; I was at a turning point. I decided to stay. As the years flew by with no healing and no local Christian support; I was broken. I can remember tearfully praying and asking the Lord to forgive me for not leaving the abusive situation and thus allowing more hardship within the home. I also remember seeking God to protect others like me, “Lord I know I am not the only woman enduring such hardship and others are probably in more dire circumstances than mine. Please, Lord. Please have mercy on us and the children who will be scarred.”
Precious sisters-in-Christ, let us continue to pray that the Lord would clear our thoughts and also draw others to our side to help us move on. Thank you, Barb, for reminding us —
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“A Cry For Justice” – I have been hesitant to post for awhile now and although I’m not ready to share my story at this time, I just wanted to say “thank you” to Barb Roberts and Jeff Crippen for this blog. One evening several months ago I was feeling very alone in this silent prison without bars. The Lord has blessed me with one very understanding friend who has been there for me through all the confusing / foggy days. All one needs sometimes is an understanding and listening ear. It took time to trust her and let her into my world. It is scary to do that, as the facade will then be lifted and reality is revealed. Yikes! It takes a lot of patience on my friend’s end as I untangle the webs of lies that have taken residence in my head for so long.
There are days I feel strong and have clarity and see the light at the end of the tunnel. And then there are the days of being with my husband listening to him talk for several hours and my brain gets tired trying to sort out all his words and I fall back into some of those old ruts (of thinking) and question, “am I the one who’s off??” And it’s those times when I think the light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming and my hope gets derailed.
I draw strength from the Lord and I know He is working and He knows.
That evening I was feeling so alone I typed these words into my computer “abused Christian women” and through all the pop-ups, I clicked on “A Cry For Justice” and stayed up very late reading about many ladies who sounded like me!
I have had several “Ah-Ha” moments when reading about something I do but could never put words to it and I have learned I am So Not alone….sadly. I appreciate the books you recommend and the sermons you post. I have found much understanding, clarity and hope with ” A Cry For Justice”. Thank you.
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SO glad that you have found this blog to join those who DO understand you and will stand by you as you work to pick yourself up. We are many who are doing just that — all points on the path, but we are all heading the same direction and helping, educating and listening to one another as we progress. You have come to the right place!
Misunderstood, Lord be with you and glad you found this blog. You are amongst many on a similar journey. We are praying for each other and for those who haven’t found ACFJ yet for safety, sanity and healing for the abused and their children.
Let me join in with the others in encouraging you that you have come to the right place, ACFJ. Your experience of discovering ACFJ and reading late into the night sounds like me. At first I found it very difficult to receive what I was reading because I had always lived “the permanence view of marriage”. I almost stopped reading the posts….BUT one day something clicked; the “Ah-Ha” moment came. I ordered Barb’s and Jeff’s books, kept studying the resources and continued with local counselling.
There are still many difficult days — the Lord is our ultimate strength. ACFJ contributors and commenters compassionately encourage you to keep pressing on in HIS strength.
Anonymous, been there and done that!!
(….insert net-speak for seeing these words through new eyes….)