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  • Writer's pictureR.J Dyson

Ancient Suffering and the Holidays

I've been reading through the ancient story of Job this holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Christmas and on through the new year I'll be slowly journeying alongside this blessed man's wretched experiences.


If you're not familiar with the story of Job, get familiar.


A righteous man, he was wealthy in every way possible: a faithful wife to navigate life beside, wealth in his land and resources, servants, and the ultimate blessing, lots of kids. And then the chaos demon entered the picture.


The Satan. The slippery angelic snake.


The demon stood before Creator God at the foot of His throne and asked about the faithfulness of Job. After all, Job was blessed. He was protected. "But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." So, God, confident of Job's faith and of His deep and trusting relationship with the man, freed the snake to go and oppress Job. To stir up suffering. To take everything from him with one caveat, not to lay a finger on Job himself.


Sure enough, the Sabeans attacked Job, carrying off pack animals and servants.


While the news of that attack was being shared, fire fell from the sky, burning up the sheep and the shepherds.


As the only survivor was sharing the news, the Chaldeans raided his camels and killed Job's servants.


And worst of all, at that very moment, a great storm blew in from the desert, collapsing the very home that all of Job's sons and daughters were dining in, killing them all.


Distraught, to say the least, Job morurned...


"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."


What an incredilbe response, right? Which only enraged the chaos demon who suddenly demanded greater access to greater suffering. '"Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life."'


So, God allows the chaos dragon to afflict Job with physical suffering to match his emotional and mental anguish. Ever had a season like this?


And while Job's wife, no doubt an emotional wreck in her own right, encouraged her husband to curse God and die already, Job wouldn't. And over the next thirty-six chapters, Job and his friends wrestle with the mind and movement of Creator God here in the dirt and our responses to Him.


You'll have to read it to see how it ends.


But for me, in this season, it absolutely stirs my soul with a desire to suffer-long like Job. To be so enmeshed in my faith, that the loss of every physical blessing is simply a push toward the anti-snake, the One who brings order out of chaos, the Redeemer-Savior.


It's a reminder to be earnestly grateful, with a boldness that surpasses the grievance mindset of our broken world endlessly breaking itself over venomous ideologies that strive to divide us up into skin and votes and classes and creeds, or philosophies that offer neither brotherly love nor motherly wisdom. Instead of looking down this season, I want to be grateful for my little old house, my deepening relationship with my wife, the blessing of my kids, and the thread of faith woven through my DNA and stitched into my very being and breathing.


How's your soul this holiday season?


What are you grateful for in the midst of wounds and struggles and fears?


No, I don't want to be Job. But I do want to be like him.

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