Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Book of Job, Grief, and Learning to Trust

This past week the lectionary readings were taken from the book of Job. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Job has the perfect life and is totally faithful to God. The devil notices this and is like, "Well, God, of course Job is faithful to you because his life is perfect." So, God says, "Do whatever you want. He's still going to be faithful to me." Long story short, a ton of terrible things happen to Job and he loses everything - his livestock, his possessions, and...his children.

That part of the story really stuck with me this time around.

In the end, Job is faithful to God. God basically reminds Job that He has a bigger, broader view than Job ever could have, and Job affirms his trust in God. The book of Job ends with God restoring everything back to Job in even greater abundance than what he had before. He even gives Job more children and a long life in order to enjoy his progeny.

There is only one problem. Whenever I read this, I always think, "Yeah...but those children can't replace the first ones. They aren't the same children."

This week, in reading the daily readings, this stuck with me more than ever.

I don't think I've ever shared this, but I had a miscarriage scare when I was pregnant with Therese. My pregnancy with her was difficult from the start, and then I remember having spotting one night. I was probably only six or seven weeks pregnant at the time. Despite the suffering I'd already endured, I was already so in love with her. I knew that there was a child in me, and I loved her. After seeing the spotting, I remember curling up on my bed and sobbing and begging God, "Please, please God. Spare this baby. Please don't let this little one die. I love this baby so much already!"

And He did.


I prayed the same prayer for Maria, with each of my ER visits with her. He heard my prayer and spared that child, too.


I look back on those pregnancies (especially my miscarriage scare with Therese) and I find it hard to believe that these two beautiful girls are the ones who were in me in tiny form. If I had lost either one of them, no other child could have replaced them. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I worry about losing them all the time. And I know, I just know that they are irreplaceable.

So, when I was pregnant with my third, beautiful child, I prayed the same thing. Then, when it looked like we might be losing him, I prayed harder than I ever had in my life. But that third, irreplaceable, much loved child was not spared.


I loved Gabriel. I still love him, so much. I hope and pray that God will bless us with another child in the future, but even if I am able to be pregnant again, that child will not replace Gabriel.

So, I struggle with the ending of the book of Job, because it makes it sound like, "Look...God gave Job even better children than before! His new daughters were drop dead gorgeous!" But I know the three child I have, including the one that I have lost. And I know that they are irreplaceable.

But maybe there's more to Job's story. God never tells Job, "Stop sniveling and man up! Look, I'll give you better kids, okay?" Instead, God allows the devil to do what he does (because, remember, God never does evil, but sometimes He permits evil) but in the end, He uses the awful stuff that happens to Job to lead Job to even deeper trust.

And, let's be honest, Job's trust must have been an even greater feat, because he didn't have the hope that I have. Job couldn't say, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

But I can. I have the hope of heaven for my child.

And God, in His goodness, knew that one day Job would be reunited with his children, too. So, maybe, the new children He gave Job weren't replacements. Maybe they were consolation offered until Job and his original children would be reunited again, once Jesus threw open the gates of heaven.

Maybe, what God is asking of Job is just that trust. And maybe that's what He's asking of me, too.

The day we found out that we lost Gabriel, I remember getting on the elevator after leaving the doctor's office and being momentarily showered in incredible hope and having a mental image of a chubby, blonde little girl. Somehow, I knew, clearly, in that moment that God was going to give us another child as a consolation. He hasn't given us that child yet. I don't know how long we'll have to wait for another baby. But I know one thing...little by little, in the midst of ongoing grief, I'm learning to follow Job's lead. I'm learning to trust.

2 comments:

  1. This is great. I love the book of Job but even not having had children it always bothered me that the children seemed as replaceable as the cattle. Your perspective is wonderful.

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  2. I remember visiting a Protestant Sunday school with a friend in elementary school. The teacher told the story of Job and pointed out that he got double amounts of the money, cows, etc. at the end but only an equal number of kids to the ones lost. She asked us why and we were stumped and she made just your point--that the new kids were not replacements cause the old ones were not replaceable and were awaiting him in heaven. Thank you for sharing your grief here at this loss that we are only starting to honor and prayers for healing and consolation.

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