“God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life. He ended up with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters…Job lived on another hundred and forty years, living to see his children and grandchildren – four generations of them!”
Job 42:12-13, 16 (The Message).
A friend of mine has had a very hard year. It feels like she is getting hit from all sides with barely any time to catch her breath before the next round. She referenced that she felt like Job. Trying to encourage her, I reminded her of the double blessings Job received when his testing was complete.
However, after I hit “send,” I started thinking about the life of Job. I realized a truth I’d glossed over. I find for myself, having been raised in the church, I’ve heard these stories told repeatedly so I get immune at times to the details. By getting to read the whole story at one time, I sometimes skip the “bad” parts to get to the victory. However, thinking about my friend’s situation reminded me of the pain Job suffered and the loss he felt from what was taken from him before he received the double blessing. I had forgotten about the loss and the hurt involved.
Yes, I’m sure Job was happy to be given a second chance at being a father; however, that doesn’t take away the ache of losing the children he loved for a lifetime before. I can personally relate to that aspect. We were privileged to have two healthy children before suffering a miscarriage in 2007. Two years later, God created a “bonus blessing” for our family. This third child has brought a lot of joy to our lives, as much joy as our first two. However, there is still an emptiness, an ache in my heart over the child we haven’t been privileged to meet yet. I know Job’s suffering was much deeper, but I think it’s important to remember that losses still hurt even with the hope of blessings after the trials are over.
Having that conversation with my friend reminded me about the importance of my words to people who are going through difficulties. As much as I want to encourage them to “…look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” (Genesis 13:14-15, NIV), the Bible also encourages me to “laugh with (my) happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15, The Message).
So while the blessings Job received after his testing were doubled from what he started with, it’s important to remember there was still significant loss he had to deal with. I pray I will be sensitive to that with those around me who are hurting. Encouragement is good, but being a true friend also means providing Kleenex while I cry alongside you.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014