My Journey with Job: Seeing the Connections

My Journey with Job: Seeing the Connections

In the post “Why is God Punishing Me?”, I shared the details of the very difficult journey my friend Frances has been on and why I feel like I am on a journey with a modern-day Job.  Both Kristen Lamb and Claudia Labrador immediately commented and shared the details of their own Job journey which I encourage you all to read.  As I looked at all their stories, and reflected on my own, I saw one thing that all four of us had in common.  All of us had made significant commitments that required a tremendous amount of faith immediately prior to our trials.

Here is a brief summary of my own Job journey.

In November of 2007, my father took his own life.  My grandmother died two weeks later.  An estranged member of my father’s family began calling my mom in the middle of the night to frighten her. She got a dog from the animal shelter to keep her company and the dog literally died while being spayed. My mother then suffered some kind of heart condition from all the stress.  My dad’s business partner then sued my mother forcing the sale of my father’s restaurants which he had dedicated his life to building.  We got pennies on the dollar and suffered large financial loss not to mention the hours spent with attorney’s fighting the sale.  All of this was happening when I was pregnant with my third child. Shortly after Caroline was born, our house flooded and I had three kids under 5 with a new born in the house with no walls, exposed wiring, and no carpeting for nearly 6 months because the flooding was so wide spread and the insurance was so complicated.  This was my own Job-like season.

At the time, I was at a church that was helping me discern my call to vocational ministry.  I was working with a pastor who really believed in me.  I was starting to believe that maybe, just maybe God had called this little unchurched girl from a small town in Central Texas to become a minister.

If you read Frances’ Job story you will learn that she felt called to step out in faith and open a restaurant in one of our city’s most challenged commercial corridors just prior to her life falling apart.

If you read Claudia’s Job story, you will learn that her life fell apart shortly after leaving behind the American dream and stepping into the mission field in Ecuador.

If you read Kristen’s story you will learn that her life fell apart right after she stepped out in faith and opened her own business.

Another thing that is interesting is that all of us suffered material loss, betrayal, loss of friends, health issues or death of a member of our family and all of us had major challenges with our homes (Frances and Claudia became homeless, my home was destroyed by flood and Kristen’s husband had to leave the country leaving her as the head of household).

Are these patterns just a coincidence?  They sure remind me of the trials that the book of Job documents.  Could it be that the Book of Job is more than a story about an unfortunate God seeker but more of an archetype for what to expect if you decide to step out in faith? With those kinds of “perks”, I don’t think anyone would sign on for the job of Jesus follower.

However, if we are honest, the first followers of Jesus all had their own Job stories.  Stephen was stoned, Paul was tortured and beheaded, Peter was crucified upside down and the list of Christian martyrs goes on and on.

I know these stories are not great PR for the faith if the goal is to “attract” unchurched people to the faith but this is the reality of our shared story.  Suffering and the Christian walk go hand in hand.

When I think about the person I was before my Job season – selfish, self-centered, materialist and totally clueless about suffering, I cringe.  I would do just about anything to bring my father back but I don’t think I would ever want to go back to being the person I was before.

Suffering can produce hardness of heart or it can produce spiritual growth and maturity.  Frances, Kristen, Claudia and I have all been changed by our Job seasons and I suspect they would all say that the change was for the better.

Jesus tells us that “Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But, if it dies it produces much fruit.”

I know many of you are still in your Job season and I wish I could say that it is a once in a life time season, but sadly if we want to continue to grow, I suspect it might be something we go through over and over again in various degrees of severity.

I want to thank Claudia, Frances and Kristen for sharing their stories with us and I would like to invite you all to share your stories.  In reading these three women’s accounts, I started to make sense of my experience and I hope you will have the same insights into your own journey by sharing with one another.

7 Comments

  1. I am so thankful you wrote this in your blog. I am currently working on a book entitled “God’s Calling, It is not for the Weak” It is all about the trials I have encountered trying to do God’s Will and start Beds For Kids. Oddly enough we almost lost our home twice, my mother passed away and the story continues from there. Thank you for this. It gave me encouragement to finish this book so that others will know they are not alone.

    Reply
    • Jenny,

      Thanks for your comments. I wrote my book “From the Sanctuary to the Streets” for the same reason. I had someone tell me that if God is in it, it will be easy. I have found that to be a lie. Nothing about our work has been “easy” and honestly without the trials, I would never have appreciated the high points. Please let me know when you finish your book. I suspect you will find parallels in my mine.

      Reply
  2. In reading this, I’m reminded of something I read in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.
    11 I have seen something else under the sun:
    The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
    nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
    but time and chance happen to them all.

    12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:
    As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
    so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them.

    Job wasn’t about him being attacked by evil for stepping out on faith. That was about Satan accusing God of hedging him from evil and he would surly curse God if bad times came.

    Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” People may want to step out on faith to help someone or serve God but if they aren’t wise and put some thought into it, first, they may be needlessly bringing themselves a ‘Job’ experience. You don’t just run out to save a puppy in the median of a busy freeway without looking before you cross the road. If you do, you get hit and then you lay in the hospital crying “Job! Poor me!”

    I hope you don’t mind the different perspective. Of course you don’t share this with someone needing some sympathy. It may not be good to point out how a hurting person could have avoided their pain and still achieved their goal. Apart from this, happenstance happens to everyone at some point. Bad things happen and at the worst times.

    Reply
    • Ryan,

      I understand where you are coming from and I do agree that we bring many of the “Job” experiences onto ourselves. However, if you look closely at the examples there are certainly things in all three stories that are not brought on by poor decisions. While the timing could simply be coincidence, it is curious that the “bad things” were all clustered right after the person took a leap of faith. Now I might just be reading something into the stories that is not there but I seem to find this same pattern over and over again – big faith decision followed by “bad things.” Only God knows if it is a pattern or coincidence. I also agree that this concept of trials after a leap of faith is not found in the book of Job. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Reply
  3. Job has always lifted me like no other book in the Bible. I see incredible faith & an overwhelmingly loving God. A friend shared your post w/ me thinking I might enjoy it. Love for you to take a look at a text I wrote I get your thoughts – if you’re ever so inclined you’ll find it at the website above. Blessings – td

    Reply
    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your comment. From your website, it is obvious that you are intimately familiar with the gifts found in the book of Job. I will check out your site more fully when I get a chance. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your book.

      Reply
      • WC – I meant to include I’m in the Richmond area & hope to explore Embrace Richmond more closely. That was actually what initially prompted my friend to aim me at you. I’m transitioning massively in life & look to invest more where practical efforts disallowed before. Perhaps we’ll cross paths at some juncture. Blessings – td

        Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>