Yesterday I had lunch with three friends, all widows. One has been a widow for 22 years. That is a long time to be alone when you chose a man who loves you but God calls him home. That might sound like an oversimplification but if God is sovereign, He gets credit for everything – whether we agree or not. Today I finished reading the Book of Job. Chapter 42 is refreshing after the full story of Job’s loss and then his friends. I use the term ‘friends’ loosely because God has a thing or two to say to them in this chapter, and then Job prays for them after all that has preceded. My three friends made a plan and there were some twists and turns that were unexpected and unwelcome. Job also had loss upon loss. Job knew God. In Psalm 54:5, my paraphrase, David says that God will recompense the evil. I don’t use the word in my everyday vocabulary, but recompense is about repayment, reward, and restoration. Psalm 18:20-21 states, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.” I’m not sure it is right to qualify a great loss as evil but if Job’s losses were at the hand of Satan, we know he is evil. We blame God and then we reach for God. Job’s prayers for his friends restored them to friend status. Dying is not a fault but what about the betrayal that Job expresses?
Excerpts from Psalm 55:12-22 expresses steps when the loss is a betrayal and from a friend. “My companion and my familiar friend. We who had sweet fellowship together,” and “His speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords.”
Job was at war.
Things to do: “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me.”, “I will complain and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me,” and “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
My favorite song today has the phrase, “I sought the Lord and He heard and He answered”. God heard Job and He answered. Psalm 56:11 speaks to this again, “In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” It is tradition that the Book of Job was written far in advance of the Psalms which offer healing balm for all the ills of our spirits. In the final Chapter of Job he discloses that he now has a better understanding. Job has listened to God and retracts what he has said. God decrees that he should now pray for his friends because they have “not spoken of Me what is right”. These were foolish friends. Job had a plan that went awry. My friends had plans that went awry. I had plans that went awry. It was a good plan. Job 42:10 says, “And God restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold.” We can expect increase as we honor God as we live with loss. He decides for the widows and the rest of us. Job enjoyed the plenty of family and wealth for another 140 years and died an old man, full of days. We, regardless of how the Job thing happens to us, should ask for the remaining days to be full.