Worry And Mrs. Job

Job003I tend to be hard on Job’s wife. I mean, who takes a vow “for better or worse,” then when the worst happens, says, “Just give up. Deny God and end your life.” It’s a brutal response to someone who has lost everything. But I tend to forget: Mrs. Job had lost everything, too.

Scripture gives us the impression that she was Job’s only wife, though many of the Jewish patriarchs practiced polygamy. Hence, the seven sons and three daughters who died where her seven sons and three daughters, too. We can postulate as well that when Job was stripped of his wealth, Mrs. Job was also plunged into poverty along with him.

It really ought not to be surprising, then, that Mrs. Job looked at the sudden destruction of all that had given her security and happiness, and fell into despair. What was she to do? Her husband was so sick he could do nothing but sit in the ashes and scrape his skin with a bit of a ceramic pot.

What did that mean for her future? Her children were gone, so there was no one she could count on to provide for her day after day or care for her into her old age. She was bereft of all that had given her stability.

In her mind, apparently, God had done this to her husband. Interesting, I think, that she didn’t curse Job, as if he was at fault. She had to have known that he was a man of integrity who revered God and turned away from evil. So the fault was God’s, she figured.

But what does all this have to do with worry? At its heart, worry is nothing more than fear of the future. What if X happens or Z doesn’t materialize? How will we make it if A turns into B? Mrs. Job was faced with the biggest questions of her life: how was she going to survive now that she was poor; how was she going to care for a sick husband; how was she going to live another day with a God who had turned against her?

But that was the critical issue. Had God turned against her? Some might argue that no, she just got caught up in the backwash of God’s dealing with Job and Satan. But that idea minimizes God’s omniscience, sovereignty, and lovingkindness for each person He created. Did He forget that what happened to Job would have repercussions on Mrs. Job? Unlikely.

So did God turn a blind eye to her? Not in the least. She and Job, I suspect, were much more of a package deal than we realize. Not until after Mrs. Job counseled her husband to curse God and die did he begin to rue the day of his birth (Job 3:1). True, his initial response to her was one of the great testimonies of faith:

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:10)

But a week later he was questioning why he’d ever been born:

“Why did I not die at birth,
Come forth from the womb and expire?
Why did the knees receive me,
And why the breasts, that I should suck?” (Job 3:11-12)

Would he have reached that dark place of doubt without his wife’s suggestion? Impossible to know. But it seems clear they both came to a point where they were not looking at God and saying, in spite of their horrific circumstances, Blessed be the name of the Lord.

But that’s precisely where we all need to be, no matter what we have or what we’ve lost. God’s kingdom and righteousness are to be our focus, according to Matt. 6:33.

We aren’t to be seeking how to replace the 500 donkeys or to scrape up an army to go after the Chaldeans who stole the camels or campaign for storm-proof housing to spare our children–at least we aren’t to be seeking these things first. In reality, seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness might ultimately lead to a restoration of what we’ve lost. It did for Job. But first, he needed to see God as He is.

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes
.” (Job 42:2-6, emphasis mine)

I submit, the only worry-free zone is the space in which we are clinging to God rather than to our thousands of sheep, oxen, camels, and donkeys . . . or even to our children or our husband or our health. God calls us to make Him our focus, and one way or another, He’ll see us through, as He did Mrs. Job, to the other side of the dark valley in which we’re walking.

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Published in: on January 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. Good points. Fortunately for her, when God restored 2x everything Job had lost, she also recovered.

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    • We don’t hear again about her after the second chapter, but I can’t help wondering how the exchange with the friends and later Job’s repentance affected her. Could it be that God gave a double portion for her benefit? It would be nice if this were so.

      I don’t think it’s too far fetched, either. After all, Job didn’t say she was a foolish woman. Just that she was talking like one of the foolish women. So I think there’s hope that she also repented. God told Job to pray for his friends, but not for his wife. Could it be that she had already repented?

      Becky

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  2. It’s interesting that you would see Mrs. Job’s side of the issue. I’ve never heard anyone try to understand Martha, either, in Lazarus’ household, although most of us have been there. And I enjoyed seeing you tackle the collateral damage angle of this issue, as well.

    It is my contention that, as you intimated, our God does not have a First Best, a Second Best, and a Third Best agenda, based on our performance! We have a God Who, when we are simply called, according to His will, works all things together for our good, (Romans 8:28) so we can’t mess up His plans! As Omniscient, He simply shifts myriads of details, if necessary, to accommodate untold numbers of individuals who love Him and are called according to His purposes. And you know what? I think He enjoys the complicated accomplishment of always giving the best to each of us, because He loves us, so much!

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  3. Peggy, thanks for your comment. I love what you’ve added. I agree about how God works, not a Plan B or C when we sin, but a plan to turn what we’ve done into the good He desires for us. It’s mind boggling to think about because it’s so beyond our capacity. He really is an amazing God!

    Becky

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  4. Rebecca,

    I so cherish your posts of pure truth. It may be hard for some to read at times but in the end it is refreshing as NOTHING cleanses us like the raw and powerful truth of God’s word. Thank you, for standing firm. Praying for you to continue to be bold and courageous as we know He goes with you!!!

    Jodi

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  5. Thank you for you post it was a blessing, It is amazing and true when we seek first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness He adds all things on to us, just ask Job!

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    • I appreciate you stopping by, Pastor Joni. Yes, Job is certainly right there with Mrs. Job, receiving the good God bestowed on him after his ordeal. I’m glad we have the end of the story.

      Becky

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