This is the third part of a three part series on encouraging words from Scripture for mourners. The words were encouraging and inspiring at the time they were penned and are still the source of encouragement and inspiration for mourners today. The following encouraging text is the oldest book in the Bible and concerns the age old question of man “Why do we suffer?” I suggest you read the text and dig deeper into the meaning and implication of the message for you as you walk your grief journey.
JOB’S STORY OF SUFFERING
(The Book of Job)
I don’t think that it was a coincidence that after the accident and the funeral for my wife and daughter that I felt compelled to study the book of Job. The oldest book of the Bible, Job is a treatise on suffering and why man serves God. After I had finished my personal study of Job, a co-worker recommended a book for me to read. The book just happened to be an exposition of Job and the lessons to be learned in those scriptures about loss and suffering in this world.
Later in my studies for the ministry at the Center for Christian Education in Irving, Texas and through Abilene Christian University, I read the life-changing book Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God in a Suffering World by Dr. John Mark Hicks. (Hicks, College Press Publishing, 1999). The title is a quote from Job stating that even if God takes his life, he will still put his full faith in God.
Dr. Hicks writes of the role of suffering from his theological education and his life experience of losing his first wife to a post-surgical blood clot and later his teenage son to a debilitating disease. I recommend this book to all ministers, chaplains, lay counselors and Christian grief counselors.
What can Job teach us mourners?
- Those who believe and serve God are not exempt from experiencing losses and suffering in life.
- God is more interested in us being faithful than in our being comfortable in this life.
- As sufferers, we do not have the big picture or understanding why events happen the way they do in our lives. Even when we may search for answers to why life is the way it is, we may never get the answers.
- God cares for His children and will reward them.
- God is on His throne and in control. This can be the source of great comfort or sometimes great frustration for those who serve God.
- Comforters should not choose to speak for God on why someone suffers. (Just ask Job’s friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar and the young spokesman Elihu.)
Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa”
Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.