Lessons from the Book of Job/Viewing Job as a Bereaved Parent

From my journal dated August 25, 2002:

People have just got to cut us a little slack right now. We are all so emotionally raw. We just can’t be expected to act or react “normally,” whatever that is. It’s like expecting a person whose leg has been amputated to get up and walk or run again right away like “before.”

Our family has had part of it amputated, abnormally cut off.  We have a gaping hole where we are wounded and bleeding. Who is there to help us? I know that Christians think God is the one to help us, to heal us. So…what is their responsibility? To stand back and wait until God heals us? To tell us they are praying and do nothing else? To pass us on the other side of the road? To pretend they don’t see us, don’t know us? To pass the buck to the invisible “someone else”?

I do believe God will help and heal. I also think we as Christians need to be doing more than we are. Why else would God have given us a whole book of instruction on what we are supposed to do? “Faith without works is dead.” It’s not all up to God when things are tough for others! It’s up to us!

I can only speak for what I see in our Western culture, but it seems like we are so much about ourselves any more – our busy, busy, busy lives; our needs and wants; what is easy or convenient for us; what will fulfill us; what will bless us. Are we as Christians doing enough, just doing our own little “God” things?

It’s funny that the book Prayer of Jabez is so popular now. “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory. Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” (I Chron. 4:10). But the previous verse says that Jabez was more honorable than all his brothers. Doesn’t that mean that his honorable life came first? He must have been quite a guy to be called “honorable” in the inspired Word of God. It’s easy to zero in on the “bless me, keep me from pain” and skip the fact that his honorable life came first.

I’ve been reading some in the Book of Job. Sometimes I wonder if there’s an associated guilt in people’s minds toward us…sort of like a “Who sinned? This man or his parents?” attitude that Job’s friends had toward him. Is there a feeling that we have something that’s “catching”? That we or Jason did something wrong to deserve this ugly pain that no one wants to look at or be around?

Excuses, excuses! My mind sort of understands “the other side” of the coin. But my heart just feels pain and abandonment. Raw, excruciating, incapacitating pain. Abandonment by those who could have filled in the need for “family.” I have voiced my alone-ness and loneliness, and it had made no difference. Nearly six months of being avoided and left mostly alone has been hard on me. I know I’m struggling with being bitter – not against the kid who killed Jason and Alina, but against the “people of God” and sometimes even God.

I desperately want God to help us, to protect my family and help us, to make good come out of this. And yet I sometimes have a hard time believing God hears me. And sometimes I’m flat-out mad at Him. Sometimes I want to scream “WHY?” right into His face. Not a very spiritual attitude, is it?

I know that I believe in God. I trust – or maybe just hope at times – that He is in control and working on our behalf. I want my heart to be right and not end up crippled by this. Sometimes it’s just the knowledge that Jason is in Heaven before the throne of God that keeps me looking to God. I long to see him again. I miss my boy so much.



I have been reading the book of Job again. I see the Job differently than I used to before Jason died. I see him as a bereaved parent. My heart understands him and what he says as a bereaved parent – mourning the loss of his family, of what he knew, of the presence and hand of God on his life. He cared deeply for his kids and prayed for them constantly. (Job 1:4-5)

Job was a bereaved parent, losing all of his children at once. On top of that, he lost his business (his sheep, oxen, camels) and then he got sick. His friends came to sit with him after his children died, as was the custom. They didn’t recognize him when they approached him, but sat with him for seven days without saying a word. When Job spoke, he was in agony. He wanted God to put him out of his misery (Job 6:9). He said, “Where’s the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going?” (Job 6:11, The Message Bible) How many times have I said that since Jason died?

His friends told him he must have done something wrong and that he needed to repent. They thought they knew what was going on with Job, how he felt, what he he had done, what was going on between him and God, and what he needed to do to make things right. They ganged up on him and verbally attacked him.

Job got mad at his friends for assuming the worst about him. He says about his friends, “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers [friends] are as undependable as intermittent streams as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that stop flowing in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from their channels…Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid.” (Job 6:14-18, 21 NIV) Very harsh words for his friends, indeed.

Job doesn’t feel that God would hear him if he went before Him to plead his innocence. He says, “I don’t understand what’s going on. I hate my life!” (Job 9:21 NIV) He wishes he’d never been born. He feels beat up and weary.

He gets mad at God. “People take one look at me and gasp. Contemptuous, they slap me around and gang up against me. And God just stands there and lets them do it, lets wicked people do what they want with me. I was contentedly minding my business when God beat me up. He grabbed me by the neck and threw me around.” (Job 16: 10-12 The Message Bible). (It makes me smile at the mental picture God grabbing Job by the neck and throwing him around.) He begs God to hear him, to make things right.

Job felt deserted by those he knew and felt treated as a total stranger. “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me. My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; they look on me as on a stranger.” (Job 19:13-15 NIV)

He still believes in God and yearns for the day when he will see God (Job 19:25-27). He doesn’t under stand why God doesn’t answer him, why He is silent to Job’s pleadings for understanding of why the wicked seem to prosper when he is in such anguish (Job 21:4-18). He says that he struggles with being bitter (Job 10:1).

He yearned for the “good old days.” “Oh, how I long for the good old days, when God took such very good care of me. He always held a lamp before me and I walked through the dark by its light. Oh, how I miss those golden years when God’s friendship graced my home, When the Mighty One was still by my side and my children were all around me, When everything was going my way, and nothing seemed too difficult.” (Job 29:1-6 The Message Bible)

God finally answers Job and tells him how powerful He is, that He controls all, knows all. Job is speechless and in awe of God’s reply. God, however, lights into Job’s friends, “I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has.” (Job 42:7 The Message Bible). At least Job, even in his anguish and grief, spoke out of his honest emotions. God then told Job’s friends to repent with sacrifice and ask Job to pray for them for God to be merciful, because Job would not treat his friends as he had been treated. And then God restores and blesses Job over the next 140 years of his life.

Now, I don’t claim to be Job. I don’t want to be Job. He lost way too much, suffered way too much. But, I find it interesting that so much of what Job says echos what a current-day bereaved parent would say in the depths of their grief…things I have said and struggled with. It seems I’ve struggled, as a bereaved parent, with feelings that have been around with for a long time. I’m still trying to understand and learn…and to accept there are some answers we will never have until we see the face of God.

All scripture quoted from http://www.biblegateway.com.

5 thoughts on “Lessons from the Book of Job/Viewing Job as a Bereaved Parent

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