And just like that,
and eventually Joseph,
have slipped off the earth.
Men of great influence and power.
Men who walked with God when many were running the other way.
Now with Him.
On the other side.
And maybe to give readers a chance to catch their breath,
my chronological Bible pushes pause on the history of the Israelites,
and places Job center stage.
A righteous man whose wealth exceeded most men of his day
suddenly steps into the light.
It’s not really clear when he lived on the planet,
but there’s plenty of evidence to prove he was a real man –
not the main character in a fictitious story.
James and Paul even refer to him as example of both patience and faith.
An extremely wealthy man –
“the greatest man among all the people of the east –
Job had every reason to lean on his own strength.
Take pride in his personal accomplishments.
Walk confidently through every day,
But Job was different.
He was very aware of his humanity,
fearing the One who had given him so many blessings.
Even afraid his own children would fall short.,
and somehow disappoint God by their actions or words.
So Job spent his days fearing God
and his nights covering the tracks of his children.
Turning from evil in his personal life
and taking things into his own hands when he thought his children may have done the opposite.
Pleasing God was Job’s first priority.
Worrying about not pleasing God was his second.
His righteousness stood out so much
he caught the eye of the one who roamed the earth looking for trouble.
And he used Job’s wealth as a way of questioning his motives for being so faithful.
God knew there was more to Job’s faith than possessions, though,
and handed the enemy some power.
So the story of Job begins,
and I’m pretty sure even people who have no desire to relate their lives to Scripture
have heard of him and the trials he faced.
It only takes a few verses for everything Job owns –
and all the children he loves –
to be taken away,
leaving Job bewildered and sad.
And this morning I’m stopping there.
I’m sitting in the ashes with him.
Realizing how one day can change a lifetime.
One phone call.
One medical report.
One wrong turn.
It doesn’t take a lot to turn life upside down.
And I hurt with Job.
Because my life was forever changed in just a few verses too.
So this morning I’m not going to venture into Eliphaz’s explanation for these life-altering experiences.
I don’t want to hear empty words any more than Job did.
I don’t want someone trying to make me feel better by finding reasons for this or for that.
I just want someone to sit with me.
Cry with me even.
I want a friend who isn’t afraid to feel my pain and ask God the same question that often rings in my head,
So this morning,
I’m sitting with Job.
Smack dab in the middle of the ashes.
And I’m not afraid to stay there.
Where it’s very sad and extremely difficult to see the light of another day.
Because I believe there are many who still need me right there.
And they need you there too.
Not trying to make them feel better.
Or helping them understand their life.
Just being brave enough to say through our actions –
not our words –
“This makes no sense but I’m right here with you.
And I’m not leaving.”