The story of Job is the first of the wisdom texts. These texts are full of beautiful prose and poetry, a writing style markedly different from the historical texts. They were written at the same time as historical and prophetic texts, and offer a human lens into the experience of the people of God. Job, written around the time of Moses, is a story of the very human struggle to trust in God’s covenant to protect and guide us in times of grief as well as in times of ease.
Job’s story, although extreme in example, offers me a sense of comfort that frothy epithets fail to provide. When I hear words such as, ‘Don’t worry, just trust God,’ or ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle,’ I feel enraged. I want to shout, “You cannot even begin to understand what I’m going through!”
Job’s story comforts us by revealing the complexity of grief: our desire to trust God, the temptation to blame ourselves, frustration with inept friends, and our longing for relief. Job unlocks the hopelessness of depression I experienced in college, the anger I felt when betrayed by a mentor, and the emptiness I felt when one of my beloveds died from suicide. Job brings me back to the utter despair of those moments in ways I never had to experience.
Job brings me to an authentic place of pain that I must experience to know the healing promised in Job’s redemption. At the story’s end when God and Job converse about God’s steadfastness during Job’s suffering, I am transported to moments of relief I can appreciate in retrospect. I can see the people who supported me, the ways doors were opened, and the promise of love that extends past death.
Our scripture is full of stories that enable us to connect at the core levels of human experience. We must develop the vulnerability necessary to share our own stories with one another because they offer us a strength rooted in something far deeper than the idea that “everything will be okay.” A strength that reminds us that we are not alone in that moment. A strength that enables me to say boldly, “I had heard about you before, but now my eyes see you.”
Prayer: May I know the power of companionship.
Reflection: What holds me back from sharing my stories of grief and loss? How might I open up to others to offer spiritual companionship?