Just the other day I was talking with a young lady who is going through a really horrible time. If things don’t change she may likely die. Anyway, during our visit we talked about a lot of things. We talked about how she sees herself, how she sees God, how God sees her. We talked about the war of conflicting thoughts that goes on in her head. It was all really good stuff. Then she dropped a huge and wonderfully difficult question into the conversation. She started talking about the Book of Job and Job’s children.
She wondered that while the story is about Job and Job’s faith, what about his kids? It isn’t their story and yet they all died. She was bothered that their demise was nothing more than a plot device to serve a different story. Their deaths were just a long line of things that went wrong for Job. Then she wondered if all of her suffering had no more point than to be a plot device in someone else’s story.
The sickness had nothing to do with her faith, her growth, or defining any purpose in her life. She was simply suffering because it makes a great story for someone else.
Let me say from the beginning that I have to think about this for a whole lot longer than I have to even address the issue. Others of you will not have that problem. You know. You just know that you know that you know.
Life is pretty simple for many. The answers are easy and the solutions obvious. Just stop doing what you are doing. Be positive. Think good thoughts. Those simple answers and insights are like salt and lemon juice in a cut. They grate on her nerves and are not at all helpful.
“What if,” I think she would ask, “our lives and the things we experience are nothing more than the results of God teaching someone else a lesson?”
She has nothing to confess, despite the visits from Job’s friends. She is sure she is not being punished for some wrong doing. She is not getting better despite hundreds of people praying and fasting. Despite all of this, she is suffering, conflicted, lonely, and confused. Since nothing is working, she must be serving a part in another person’s story.
What do you tell someone that thinks she is one of Job’s children? I had nothing. That was the first time I’d even thought about Job’s children like that. Sadly, they were always plot devices that caused me to say, “Poor Job! How he has suffered.”
What wisdom did I come up with in this difficult and eye-opening conversation? I held her hands and cried a bit. I told her I was sorry she was going through this and wished I could take it away from her. I probably talked more than I should have. But mostly I just held her hands and secretly prayed that that would be enough. That God would move through that tiny act of faith on my part and break through to her heart and mind.