As we were going back and forth about the forward for the Claim Your Freedom book, JB and I sat in a pub in downtown Salt Lake City discussing “hard things.” He experienced his version of a few tough chapters just like me. Each of us have different details, and both stories were— are— difficult to live in their unique ways.
(Soul Wholeness is the updated + expanded version of that book.)
About the time the appetizers hit the table, JB observed, “Everyone looks at the book of Job as this great story of redemption.”
“I used to,” I confessed. “But I don’t see it just as that anymore, though.”
“Yeah, it’s way more complex.”
“I heard that song on the radio again the other day— the one that says He gives and takes away, He gives and takes away…”
“I know it,” JB replied.
“The song quotes Job 1:21,” I said, “and most Christians sing along— like, God gives, God takes, bless God. But they have no idea that Satan is the one taking stuff away in that story, not God…”
“Yeah. It’s what happens when people lean on bumper-stickerisms and tidy one-liners. Real life is more complex than that…”
We discussed the tension between the beginning of the book (when Job’s life is ripped right out from under him) and the end of the book (when things are “restored” multiple times over what he originally had). That’s the surface read, anyway.
In the first few verses catastrophes rock him—
His friends all blamed him for this. Surely, life wasn’t working his way because of some secret clutter, a stashed away skeleton, or a pet sin he nurtured. That’s what they told him (God later corrected them, by the way, attesting to Job’s righteousness).
And, his wife couldn’t stand him. She loathed the fact that he even breathed (19:17). She encouraged him to die. Yes, that’s exactly how it’s penned in the Bible.
“At the end of the story,” JB said, “Job ends up with twice as much wealth as before. His net worth doubles overnight” (42:10). “In fact, the Bible says people actually brought money to Job, as an offering of love and support” (42:11).
“Yes,” I said, “And he has seven more sons and three more daughters” (42:12).
“But,” JB added, "he still lost his family in the beginning. Restoration didn’t mean they came back from the dead.”
“And we have no idea what happened to his wife in all of this. We don’t read much more about her. Did she stay around and see her way through it all? Or is it a different woman at the end of the story?”
We decided there’s no way to know all of the answers to all of the questions this story raises. We do know, though, that the restored life didn’t look like a “cleaned up” and “returned” version of the old one. He still mourned his kids for the rest of an extremely long life. He lost servants and co-workers who were once close to him. His friendships may never have been the same with the people who wrongfully accused him.
Life was different.
“We lost Evans a few years ago,” JB said. “We got through it. The Lord restored us. But my son is still dead. I still miss him. That’s part of the tension.”
In that moment I could sympathize. Not in the same way, but in some way. I spent a solid year jumping though every conceivable hoop and meeting every demand that was given to me. No matter how “good” I was or how hard I begged for relational healing, I was black-balled, ghosted, and met with legal shenanigans…
In the end, I emerged stronger. Different, for sure. And with some ongoing hurt and pain, absolutely. But also stronger. And more gracious. And, in my mind, better…
Here’s my point—
You may not get “over it,” but you will push your way through it.
Telling people to (even well-intentioned) “get over” something isn’t always the best answer. Some things we can’t— and even shouldn’t.
The death of a child.
The dissolution of a relationship.
You get the idea…
We can— without maintaining a victim identity— get THROUGH these things, but that doesn’t mean we get OVER them.
Some times these things change us. They make us stronger AND more graciously tender at the same time… more able to help others in the same way in which we’ve been helped…
Restoration doesn’t always mean return. We like to think that it does, but many times it doesn’t.
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