Dysfunction Junction – have you ever been there? Job was in this place, a place where the tides had turned against him.
In Germany when someone has to break bad news to a person, they bring a “Hiobsbotschaft”, which loosely translated means sharing “Job-news”, in other words: tragic news. Job’s bad luck rose to fame in a story where God allowed Satan to take everything from Job, except his life. The resulting trauma he had to go through is legendary. In a short period of time he lost everything. Four messengers informed him of the tragedy (Job 1:13-18):
“One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’”
Bereaved of their children and their estate, Job’s wife decided to leave him too. Her parting words (Job 2:9):
“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’”
To make matters worse, Job broke out with a skin disease, which further isolated him for fear of getting infected. Besides health concerns, superstition may have played a role too. Nobody wanted to get drawn into Job’s streak of bad luck. And yet, some of his former friends did show up; unfortunately for them and for Job, they completely misread the situation and expressed it in no uncertain terms (Job 20:4-5 The Message):
“Don’t you even know the basics, how things have been since the earliest days, when Adam and Eve were first placed on earth? The good times of the wicked are short-lived; godless joy is only momentary.”
Job’s friends were not very subtle. According to their point of view, everything was his fault. This story has many facets, and “avoid jumping to hasty conclusions” is one of them.
There is no adequate replacement for a lost home; certainly no one can replace a lost family. Job had to cope with both. The turbulence of the tragedies befalling him threw Job into a deep depression. Mad at God, he began to question Him; still, despite all his doubts he held on to God and would not renounce Him as his exwife previously did. In the end, Job made peace with God and prayed (Job 42:5-6 The Message):
“I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
His friends had misjudged him; Job on the other hand had misjudged God. While nobody likes to go through a crisis, the results can be both eye-opening and life-changing. Depending on how we negotiate the pain, we can more easily connect with other people in low places. However, the greatest blessing a crisis could possibly yield is realizing God’s proximity; The Lord has been with us all along; we just could not see it.