“I don’t know how to tell you this….”
The man stood in front of his boss, pale, shaking, nervously twisting his hands.
“There’s been a terrible accident…your children were all at your son’s birthday party….there was a freak storm, the house has collapsed….all of them are dead”.
All of Job’s children – all ten of them – killed in a violent tornado which ripped the house from its foundations and threw it to the ground, crushing everyone inside.
Job must have sat there, mute in horror. What do you do when your whole world comes crashing to a halt, when your guts are ripped out and everything you thought you knew, is snatched away?
Job’s response was to scream out loud, rip his clothes. And then, he worshipped.
Worship? What on earth was there to thank God for? But somehow or other, despite the agony, he formed some words. Perhaps he screamed them through his grief, but he said them none the less;
I came into this world with nothing. NOTHING and I will leave it with nothing too. The Lord has blessed me and He has given me so much, and now He has taken it away. Blessed…holy, holy, HOLY is His name’.
Perhaps he knew, like the writer of the Psalms, that even when he was going through hell, that he wouldn’t stay there.
You will not leave me in Sheol…you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. (Psalm 16:10)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil… (Psalm 23)
There’s a clue in how these sentences are worded…’when I walk through…’
In other words, even though we go through hell in many different areas of our lives, we go through it, God doesn’t ever leave us there.
The problem with the faulty way we see things is that we look at what’s in front of us, and we can’t see a way out.
We think that what we see, is what will always be.
If you’re sick, you think you’ll always be sick.
If you’re broke, you think you’ll always be struggling for cash.
If you’re alone or grieving or depressed, you think you’ll always be those things.
It’s the feeling that this will never end, which makes it even harder to deal with.
But it does come to an end.
Noah’s flood came to an end.
The Israelites found the promised land.
Joseph was released from prison.
David was soothed from the heartache of his mental anguish.
Job’s life was restored, so that the latter part was better than the former.
But ok, to be practical, when you’re in the middle of the biggest trial of your life, reading words like this can often only make you feel worse.
Who wants trite cold comfort? Not me!
How do you actually get through it?
Everyone responds to heartache in different ways, but Job’s response was to literally rip his clothes in two (almost as though in his agony, he couldn’t bear to have anything touching him), fall to his knees and in the middle of it, worship the God who he knew was fundamentally still good.
Noah’s response was to wait patiently till the storm blew past and peace returned to the earth.
The Apostle Paul’s reply was to sing, even while shackled to a wall, having (no doubt) just been whipped (again) till his back was a bloody pulp.
Is it even possible to muster up some praise, some worship, some singing, even in the middle of despair?
And no, that’s not me, being trite and offering impractical solutions, but knowing that it is possible. It doesn’t necesarily fix things, but it shifts your perspective, and when your perspective changes, you can start to see a way through.
It’s fair to say that life may never be what it was. Job presumably always carried the sadness of his loss, Paul (I am guessing) was always physically scarred by his horrific ordeal, but at some point, their hell came to an end.
Just because you cannot see the exit right now, doesn’t meant there isn’t one.