by April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
When I was younger and read the book of Job, I didn’t catch all of the nuances of the rhetoric in the book. When Job’s friends counseled with him, I looked at their advice as their honest desire to help him. Now, looking at it from the eyes of an adult, I can see why it wasn’t really all that helpful. Perhaps it’s because time and experience teaches us things about life such as the randomness of troubles and that bad things do happen to good people.
One of the more interesting aspects of life is what happens when we go through something truly unexplainably sad and tragic and how others react to it. Some will distance themselves from such a situation, while others will offer bad advice or counsel. Many of our closest friends will often be among those who can’t help us through what the Psalms call the valley of the shadow of death. I wish there was an instruction booklet for Christians on how to relate to those with whom tragedy has struck. I know I have made many mistakes in that area, but I am learning to say less and pray more.
I sat with a particularly interesting young lady recently who is bound to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy. Her life is a constant battle with the messages her brain is sending to her body. At night, when most of us are engaged in getting our beauty sleep, she is wracked with spasms that keep her from sleeping normally. She rarely gets into the REM sleep and often can go days without sleeping at all. Yet, when you talk with her, she is amazingly positive. Her life “is what it is” as she explained it to me, and she can’t fix it, so she learns to accept. She learns to accept that which she cannot change. That could be a lesson for all of us when it comes to struggling with difficulties and a lesson to remember when watching others go through life’s random devastations. Put into perspective, she believes that complaining is futile. This same girl has an amazing network of friends, however. Since she can’t drive, her friends pick her up regularly to take her to work. They never leave her hanging and if they can’t make it, they send someone who will. I’ve seen it in action and am amazed at the silent dedication there.
We just can’t make any assumptions. We don’t know where someone is in the grieving process or in their acceptance of their circumstances. Because of this, erring on the side of caution is good advice. No doubt, Job’s friends thought that they were giving sound counsel. After all, bad things were happening to him and so he must have done something to deserve such a situation. Their approach was dead wrong and hurtful on top of that. Their approach was the lay blame, rather than to truly provide counsel.
I am reminded of a particular story about a man Jesus healed who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked if it was his parents who had sinned or the man himself. Jesus said it was none of these options. In John 9:3 this is explained, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” In every situation where tragedy or difficulty is involved, there are reasons that we can’t know or can’t fully understand. That’s why our only response should be to simply love our friends, neighbors, and loved ones through whatever they are dealing with. That’s enough. That’s all that’s required because the amazing thing about God is that He does his best work with those of us who are weak.
September 2nd, 2013 · No Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts