So how to start this one, and will I post it?
As I was re-reading Jōb in my study book, I was given a thought: Was my suffering for the testing of others. Is the Lord using my pain as a way to give witness to others? Is it to test my immediate family, as Jōb’s three friends were tested? I truly do not know.
But let me put this out there. Each of us knows someone that suffers from pain at sometime in their life. It could be because they burned themselves; fell off a horse or even down some steps. Then comes the people who have a disease that causes the person to experience pain daily for a long period of time, or the rest of their lives. I will use the name “Lucy” for the chronic pain person and talk about everyone Lucy encounters. Miss Lucy was fun loving and enjoyed her life to the fullest. She never expected to be sick or even face death; but here she is, a teenager with a rare disease that causes pain. Who is around Lucy to help or hinder her adjustment? She has loving parents, a school full of friends, a church full of friends, and she has doctors and therapists.
The first year of Lucy’s new normal runs pretty routinely for these types of things. Her parents are trying to understand why this happened to their baby. One day comes and her parents have planned an outing. Lucy wakes up and wham! She is in pain. But this pain is kicked up a notch. That meant that she could not go, much less function. That makes her parents upset. They are sitting on her bed and letting Lucy know, in no uncertain terms, that they are disappointed. Maybe they are thinking Lucy planned to be sick; and maybe Lucy wanted this day to be all about her? Why, hasn’t Lucy done this before? Hasn’t she kept her parents from enjoying a day away from all the sickness? Haven’t they heard hints, from others, that Lucy does this? They get on the phone and call Grandma, who then says that the child was being lazy or faking her pain. Since Grandma knows, you can bet every aunt knows and the phone calls start. Aunt Betty thinks that the parents are overreacting, she offers to come stay with Lucy while the parents take off. But then Uncle Calvin calls and tells them that they just need to force her to get out of her bed; she is just using her illness to get all the attention again. Which he says he has noticed Lucy doing a lot lately.
The outing was a teen function at church. So Mom calls and tells the youth leader they would not make it. The youth leader then grumbles and asks who he was going to get to take Mom’s place at this short notice. He says that Lucy sure did pull a fast one with this and was not considerate in letting them know she was going to be sick. Another member of the group (Daisy) hears the conversation and says that everything will work out with a little prayer.
If we put everyone in the same room with Lucy and have them sitting in ash just like Jōb, what do we know about each person. Well, more than likely Lucy is crying on her bed, wishing she never existed. Why? Because she has ruined her parent’s day and is causing the church problems. Her parents might be sharing their distress and give only a tiny bit of consideration to Lucy’s pain. Their main distress is to themselves and they are wondering if everyone else is right in assuming that Lucy did this on purpose. We have Grandma, Aunt Betty and Uncle Calvin shaking their head. Is it at Lucy or is it at the others in the room? Granny, we can tell because she is giving Lucy the evil eye and asking her if she was telling a lie to her parents. Aunt Betty is shushing Granny to no avail. Then Uncle Calvin tells Lucy she is being a hypocrite because she always says how much she loves going to church; so what was different with today? Then the youth leader adds his two cents, with the question of: ‘Have you prayed about how you feel, did you ask for your pain to be taken away?’ Now Lucy is really bemoaning the fact she has lived this long with this disease and why can’t she just die. That is when Daisy steps in and says for everyone to just stop! Daisy then proceeds to calm Lucy and reassure her that she understands that even the saintliest people will be given illnesses, and that the Lord intends for their illness to have a purpose.
Now let us examine Jōb. We have read that Jōb was righteous and perfect. Most important was – – he feared God and abstained from evil. We see that when satan took Jōb’s children, their families, and his animals that Jōb did not sin with his mouth. He did not even question why God had let it be. Then when satan attacked the body the evil one thought that that would surely cause Jōb to sin. But instead Jōb answers his wife with: “ …What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? ” [2:10]
How do we know that Jōb was upright and perfect? Well, we have more than two witnesses to his character. First, let us look at who wanted to attack him. The evil one, satan, was trying to irritate God. He was roaming the earth, snickering to himself that all the men on the earth was so much like him and so evil that surely God would now have to admit He made a mistake. But God questions him about Jōb. Satan answers with a whine. He whined/accused that God had put a hedge around Jōb and if He removed it then Jōb’s true nature would come forth. “ But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. ” [1:11]
We know that if a person has two witnesses that profess to his being just and of good character than that person should be looked upon favorably. So with the evil one admitting that Jōb was upright, but that was only because God protected him, we can say satan was our first witness. Another witness is one of Jōb’s friends that came to comfort him. He starts his orating with: “ Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. ” [4:3,4]
Thus we have our second witness. Our next, but first, to speak about Jōb, was God, Himself. “ And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Jōb, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? ” [1:8]
Now back to my opening questions and thought.
Was my suffering for the testing of others? Is the Lord using my pain as a way to give witness to others? To answer that, anyone reading this must ask themselves a few questions. Are they like Jōb’s friends; even, are they like the people surrounding Lucy? By comparing myself to Jōb, let me assure you that I do not see myself as upright, nor “none like him”.
From personal experience I have heard the gauntlet of questions about my faith and what sins I have committed. Thus, I will answer these here. My faith is strong, and I have never questioned why this happened to me. In the grand scheme of things, that appears (to me) to be a stupid question. Do you hear sarcasm here? Then, to what sins I have committed. Well, duh, I have sinned. Yep I have done most of all the ten commandment sins. Except idols. [That will depend on your personal definition of “an idol”.] Nor have I taken a life. Oh, and I have never coveted someone else’s spouse. Believe me, one is enough. Yep, I have lied, even cheated in card games, even fussed at my parents. Oh, I have never had any gods over, much less under, the great I AM. Let me say these are facts, not some horn tooting.
Then to the questions of prayer. Some have asked if I have prayed for a ‘cure’. Have I prayed for ‘forgiveness’? Do I pray when I am in pain? Well, duh, since I am in continual conversation with my Trinity then I guess the answer would be “yes”. But for my body to be healed? I refuse to pray for that. Why? Maybe because I understand that my body is the Temple of the Lord. And if He is ok with it being the way it is, why should I question or charge Him? I passionately believe we will be given nothing that He cannot get us through. [I will say this, if I were attacked with a disease like cancer, I might be doing some knee bending for curing. ]
Are there days that I am tempted to scream to heaven, “Why me!”? You bet-ya. Sometimes I will read Jōb and think he must have been a great-grand- parent many times removed. Because, when I read his responses to his ‘friends,’ I hear sarcasm. I hear him saying in his head, ‘so these are my so-called ‘friends’. You know when we are in anguish that it will more-than-likely be our friends and family that would make us lose it. Their responses can make us sin. Yep, we might scream in our head, ‘just shut up already’. But a lot of times those screams slip out. Then they will act like you wounded them, and you are causing them pain.
I really get living with pain. I really get that people who do not experience it daily, will never understand. So, how do I handle those people? I don’t even try anymore. I finally figured out it will become a competition with them on describing their discomforts. Or, I just let the sarcasm drip with words like, “well I wouldn’t wish today on any of my enemies”. Or I might say, “I hope you never experience just a 10th of what I go through”.
Therefore, when you come upon a person who seems totally healthy with a handicap tag and you want to give them the evil eye, remember they could be me. Unlike Jōb, I look perfectly normal on the outside. And I refuse to sit around in ashes and sackcloth. But if the Lord is using me to test someone – – then that test I will gladly be. A confession here, I have been each of Jōb’s friends sometime in my life, sad to say.
To some of my blog readers you might catch on that I have two blogs. One is about my illness and this blog is my witness to my salvation. Thus, if you read a post on this blog and think that either blog copied the other, nah. It is me. This post was the original thought. And boy how my thoughts can grow, more to come in another post.
My prayer is: Father forgive us for being angry and not showing compassion to our friends and family when they are ill. Let us be a witness. Use us as You see fit.