“There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1)
So begins the story of Job.
I read the book of Job in its entirety as a young adult when I had my first job after graduating high school. I was nanny to four children – 4 month old twins, a three year old and a five year old. How I managed that job, I will never know. I last 4 months. It was not the childcare that finally got to me; it was having to assume more and more responsibility for running the household. Because the mother of the four children had started schooling for being an RN, I had charge of the children all day, and than some evenings I had them too. The father of the children also worked during the day, and did what he could to help out in the evenings. But as any parent knows, parenting that many children and at those ages is a two person job. And I just had not bargained for that!
But, back to the point I was making; I started reading Job when I encountered my first stressful situation after high school. It helped to read and know that I was not the only one in history who felt burdened and pressed upon. And that even older and more mature adults can and need to say “uncle!” I give up! Also, that older and more mature adults felt that someone was just plain “out to get them!”
“One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” (Job 2:1-3)
It is important to note, beloved reader, that God still finds Job innocent and undeserving of what happened to him – the loss of children and property. It was important to me, when I was exhausting myself daily doing that job. I felt that I had lost all of my innocence and naivete about working. I just was not prepared for it, just as Job was not prepared for what happened to him.
“Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.” (Verses 4-6)
I caught a cold, and because I was on the go all day the cold just kept getting worse and worse. Ask any young parent how easy it is to get better from a cold while you are tending to children and household tasks. Fortunately I went home weekends. But in the two days of being home, I would just start to get better when Sunday night I had to go back out to the farm (did I mentioned they lived on a farm in a drafty farmhouse?) ready to pick up my duties for the next day and week. I had that cold for over four weeks until I finally started to recover!
“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Verses 4-10)
What I went through was probably no worse than any other young parent – although having to do care for 4 children under the age of 5 years old is probably not something a typical 19 year old would have to do. It certainly prepared me for parenthood! But it also brought me closer to God. The 4 month old twins started to bond with me, and I with them. The three old also became my shadow. We had cuddle and storybook time. The five year old knew enough that I was not her mother and we had many tough times. But I was told by relatives of the family that they could see a difference in her, and that she was becoming a more pleasant child. Those same relatives asked and begged me not to quit at Christmas time. But I just could not do it anymore!
I did not “curse God and die” although some nights I felt exhausted to death. But I knew in those four months I had done something important, and something important happened to me. I “grew up” in a way I had not done before. I had been saddled with more responsibilities than any nineteen year old should be, and I survived it. I saw first hand and close up that children and parenting is hard work, and that parenting does not necessarily come naturally. And I drew closer to God, which has stood me in good stead in the intervening years. When you have no one to rely on, and there are innocents who are relying on you, you quickly come to know where to turn to for true and lasting strength.
We have one more week of the story of Job. And we will see how Job is faring with his trials and tribulations. May you, beloved reader, find strength and endurance in God. Selah!