I have rogue plasma cells which wreak havoc in my blood and bone marrow. What I’ve learned is that even though I’m the one who has this cancer, I’m not by any means the only one afflicted by it. My pain touches my family and close friends, too. My diminishments change the role I’m able to play in their lives. My uncertain future generates anxiety for them.
Job’s abject suffering—scraping his festered sores and sitting on an ash-heap—trouble his wife, of course. She also suffered loss. Seeing no way for Job to escape his misery, and sharing his presently unacknowledged and unspoken disillusionment with God, she urges him to “Curse God, and die” (v. 9). Job resists her desperate counsel, though he comes close to cursing God in the protests he soon unleashes against heaven (see chapter 3).
We shouldn’t be too hard on Job’s wife. She knows him well, she loves him, and she’s confident that he’s done nothing to bring this terrible trouble on himself. She speaks out of confused anguish, feeling that Job would be justified in rejecting the God who seems to have abandoned both of them. She also knows that there are some things worse than death.
Crisis can be wildly chaotic. It’s crucial for us to be honest with ourselves and with one another—as Job’s wife is—so that we can move through our bewilderment. Maybe—though we’re not told—Job’s wife will eventually be able to join him in saying, “Blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21).
How do your toughest problems affect those who love you? What impact do their challenges have on you?
Merciful God, help me to see, hear, and respond compassionately to others’ difficulties and disappointments. Amen.