|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 07/21/2009 : 07:45:47 AM
Dealing With Grief (Job)
Grief is a natural part of life in dealing with loss, and the greater the loss the greater the grief. We will all suffer grief, be it caused by the loss of a good job, divorce, sickness, injury, theft, the life of a loved one, or any number of bad things that happen in life. How we deal with life’s disappointments will determine how we live our lives. No one lives without hurts, no one lives a happy life all the time, and difficulties will come so we might as well get ready for them and learn how to handle them. In this study I want to touch on the eight stages of grief, look at Job’s sufferings, and how he grieved and finally recovered.
Five stages of grief are given by author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book entitled, “On Death and Dying.” They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It should be noted that she points out in her book that these do not always occur in the order listed and the grieving person may not experience all five. Her book is about those who are facing imamate death. For those who have suffered loss and will not die so soon, I would like to add three more to this list: adjustment, assistance and restoration.
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death. Example: “I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me" (Wikipedia: Kubler-Ross).
Job said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return, the LORD gives, and the LORD takes away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). This nobal saying sounds like a great confession of faith—but in reality—is minimizing the emotional pain. It’s not normal to say, “Oh well, easy come easy go,” when talking about a great loss.
Friends seldom handle grief appropriately. Often friends and family try to minimize the situration and defend God (Reiner 2005). First, God is big enough that He doesn’t need defending. Secondly, if we find ourselves trying to help someone in this stage of grief, we should never try to minimize the situation. We should only empathise with them, as they will soon move on to the next stage.
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy. Example - "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?" (Wikipedia: Kubler-Ross).
The aggrieved person usually feels that God allowed it or caused it. The Christian must come to undertand that although God is all-powerful, that does not necessarily make Him responsible for everything (Reiner 2005).
Job said, “May the day perish on which I was born and the night in which it was spoken, ‘A male child is born.’ May that day be darkness, Why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, Like infants who never saw light?” and he goes on and on cursing the day in which he was born (Job 3:3-4 & 16).
Also see chapter 3:25-2, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” I remember back in my Bible school days—the 80s, during the positive confession movement—there was much discussion concering this vesrse. There were 65 students in the class, verying from new Bible students—like me—to seasoned pastors. Many argued that this saying of Job was a nagtive confession, and it was his negative confession and doupt that brought all these terrible things upon him. Older wiser men argued that God is not just sitting up there waiting for someone to utter something negitive so He can strike them.
Recently Fred Baker (remember the PTL Club) said, “I believed and preached “Positive Confession” so much that I believed that no Christian should ever suffer. All Christians should be blessed and have everything they desire and ask God for. Then in prsion, I met some real Christians and learned that I was preaching a false doctrine.” Imagne, a television evanglist going to prison and finding the real Jesus.
Job’s statement may indicate he believed that as long as he did good works, he should only esperience blessings and should never suffer any great losses or disasters in his life. If that is what Job believed, he was mistakened (according to New Testament teachings. On the other hand he may have sensed that something bad was about to happen and was doing everything he knew to do to prevent it. We do have some kind of intuition—we just know that something is going to happen—and it’s one of those days that we just need to stay home. I wish life were so simple that all we have to do is be good and everything will be great, but it’s not. I’m not saying we should be give in to chronic anxiety or some kind of “what if” disorder.
Such negitive thoughts and the life style that follows can result in more than normal problems even without the devil being involved. In Job’s case the devil was involved and the cause of his problems, not Job’s. God said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8). If God called Job blameless, who are we to blame him for his troubles?
Unfortunately, even today, many christians seem to believe that because they’ve accepted Christ, they should no longer experience problems, struggles, and losses in their lives (Reiner 2005). We’ve got to know that, according to the Bible, this is not true and that many faith filled Christians suffer wrongs.
Being angery with God is normal. We don’t want to take responsibility, so we blame God. We feel that God could have prevented this tragedy, therefore it’s His fault (Reiner 2005). Is that ture?
"God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through His Word and Holy Spirit and He gives us the responsibility for their use," (Reiner 2005). Does this truth mean that God’s people will not suffer? No, the Bible makes is perfectly clear that there will be suffering as a Christian. Here is a popular verse quoted today, but they almost never quote the whole verse.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” But they don’t quote the rest which says, “if we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us” (Rom 8:16-18.
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..." Example - "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..." (Wikipedia: Kubler-Ross).
Job 13:20-26, “Only two things do not do to me, then I will not hide myself from you You.”
1) (Don’t) withdraw your hand from me
2) And let not the dread of You make me afraid
There’s nothing wrong with the things Job asked for, but they do demostrate bargaining. We often make deals with God, when we cannot keep our part. Remember George Clooney’s prayer when he and his buddies were about to be hanged in the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”? After they were miraculously delivered, he told God, “Oh never mind all that.” That’s how we often bargain with God.
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection (here on earth). It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed. Example - "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die . . . What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?" (Wikipedia: Kubler-Ross).
“Though I speak, my grief is not relieved, and if I remain silent, how am I eased. Now He has worn me out . . .” (Job 16:6-9 & 19:6).
At this point of depression the gieved person needs compasssion more than anything else.
One Christian counselor was told by a cilent, “I’m angery with God for what He has done to me,” and the counserlor said, “If God did that to you, then I’m angery with Him, too.” In the end the aggrieved person came to his own conclution that God was not at fault, in fact God was his only hope. Again we need not defend God, and we must allow the grieving person to come to his own conclusion that God is his hope and not his problem.
This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle. Example - "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it" (Wikipedia: Kubler-Ross). “My spirit is broken, my days are estinguished, the grave is ready for me” (Job 17:1).
On the other hand, remember the movie “The Bucket List”? One might take on that attitude and do those things that they always wanted to do before they kick the bucket. A Christian may spend his last days sharing his faith as as many as he can.
It’s important to remember that just because a person finally comes to acceptance—does not mean that he/she has completely recovered. They are still in the recovery process, but it does mean that he is now ready to hear from God (Job 38:1…). Now God speaks and reveals Himself to Job, which open Jobs eyes to see God and himself as he is.
This was what all the sufferings of Job were about. They opened his eyes so he could see God and himself in comparison with God. Job repented and became a new man.
If the aggrieved is not himself soon to die, but has suffered loss—as in the case of Job, and he’s gotten passed the acceptance point—there must be an adjustment. He must adjust to the new situation or circumstances. This will take faith in God, and understand that God is able to work all things, even bad things, to the good. Some of the adjustments are to do everything possible to align one’s life with the will of God (Rom 12:1).
If you haven’t read the Joni Erickson story, please do so. It was 30+ years ago that she was paralyzed. If you ask her today if she has been restored, she would say, “Yes, I am,” but she is still paralyzed. She has been restored in mind and spirit and has learned to deal with life as it is for now.
Job 42:1 & 5-6: “I know that You can do anything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” Verses 5-6, “I have heard You, but now my eyes have seen You, therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” NOW Job is ready to be used of God.
7) Assistance: (Being used of God)
Now that Job had gone through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and adjustment—he’s ready for assistance—he’s ready to be used by God. When Job was ready, God used him to pray for the three pathetic counselors (Job 42:8). Notice that Job prayed for his three friends and not four. There was a forth person, Elihu, and we’ll take a look at him later.
Restoration does not mean that everything lost will be replaced. Most certainly Job’s children and servants, and everyone else, were not restored. Rather Job, himself, was restored and even better than before. “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). Perhaps the best way to see Job’s restoration is in the names of his daughters. They were the most beautiful girls in all the land (Job 42:10-15).
The names of Job’s daughters:
a) His first, Jemima, means: Day by Day or It Takes Time (They say, “Time heals all things.” I don’t know about that, but surely restoration takes time.)
b) The second, Kezia, means: Makes Life Fragrant Again
c) The third, Keren-Happuch, means: Makes Life Seem Good Again (a,b,c Reiner 2005)
Elihu, who was he? It is believed by many that he is the writer of the book of Job. His name means: God of Him or God Himself. He says nothing until chapter 32, and then speaks for six chapters without interruption. He says some fantastic things. See 33:3-6a, 33:23-26, 37:22-24. One might suggest that Elihu—in a poetic way—represents Christ. After Elihu’s introduction—of God—God appears. God does not speak anything against Elihu, only against the other three and finally He has some words for Job, which opened Job’s eyes.
Job said to God, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You and therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
When Job finally saw God—and himself in the light of God—he repented as a sinner and abhorred himself. Then and only then could God use him and bless him. We are the same. We must come to God, seeing oursleves as sinner and unfit to live, and repent. Then He can use us greatly.
We must never attempt to see and understand God through the darkness of our own unrighteousness, but instead see ourselves in light of God’s pureness. We see God’s pureness through Jesus Christ.
“An God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
God may sometimes afflict, or allow afflictions, but He is also the God who always comforts!