5 ~ Unbearable Loss

(*Actual name not given in the Bible)
(based on Genesis 36:28-33 and book of Job in the Old Testament)

Part 1 ~ Loss of Possessions

      There was so much work to be done in preparation of the visiting emissary from the kingdom just south of Edom that Jobetta
sometimes thought she'd never get everything done in time. [1]

      She called for one servant after another with instructions.  

      "The banquet hall needs to be rescrubbed and decorated.  Get that completed as soon as possible, and then report back to me so
we may begin putting up decorations."  

      "Yes, ma'am."  [2]

      Something caught her eye out the window.  She wished people would be more careful with their fields.  Another one caught fire.  All
that black smoke would play havoc on her newly washed walls.  

      What decorations should she use?  She could put up a new tapestry with fresh new colors on each of the walls.  She could cover the
pillars around the hall with thin sheets of copper and garlands of fresh leaves.  

      "Have the head cook come in here please.  I think I have the menu planned now."  

      "Did you call for me?"  

      "Yes, we need to begin preparing the food now.  The banquet is just a few days off.  Now let me see.  Of course fresh fruits.  And
bread made from the finest ground wheat.  Remember, very finely ground.  Do you have enough on hand?"  

      "Yes ma'am."  

      "Good.  Now, a selection of mutton and fish would be good.  I think 50 lambs will be enough.  Does that sound like enough to you?"  

      "Oh yes ma'am.  That should be plenty."  

      "Now go and start taking care of this immediately.  Set everything else aside until after the banquet."  

    "Yes ma'am.  We were anticipating this and are ready."    She began to leave.  

      "When it comes down to the last few hours, I'll be checking with you again, and making any necessary adjustments at that time.  You
may go now."  

      Jobetta eyed the black smoke in the distance once again, and hoped the wind wouldn't carry it in this direction.  Then she made her
way out of her room, walked down the mezzanine, and arrived at the part of the great house where the guests would be housed.  She
must check each of the rooms to make sure they were being cleaned.  It had been awhile since so many were used.  [3]

      Her husband saw her from down in the courtyard.  "Jobetta, why don't you sit down and rest?  You are going to wear yourself out
even before anyone arrives."  

      She turned around and leaned her hands on the railing.  "My dear husband, it must be just right for our guests.  If it is not, what will
they think of you?  They will think you don't really care about them."  

      "Nonsense.  Come on down here and sit and rest a minute with me.  I'll send to the kitchen for some fruit juice.  You can spare a
minute for your old husband, can't you?"  

      She smiled and went down the narrow steps to the courtyard.  "Job, what would I do without you?"  Even though she was smiling, the
thought always scared her deep down inside.  

      "And what would I do without you?  You'd better slow down."  

      They both sat down and leaned back.  Goblets of juice were brought to them.  They sipped a few minutes in silence.  Usually there
was a breeze in the courtyard.  But today it was hot and muggy.  Jobetta was glad for the moment's rest.  

      Job looked up at the sky.  "I saw some churning clouds a few minutes ago in the south sky.  Hope the weather clears up in time for
the feast.  We wouldn't want to have empty places at our banquet tables now, would we?"  He smiled and looked over at his wife.  

      "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that.  They'd get here through sand or flood or cyclone.  They love you too much to miss this."  She
paused a moment and sipped her cool drink.  "And do you know who else loves you, Job?"  She smiled sheepishly and looked over
at him.  

      "Who else loves me?" he played along.  

      "The whole world?"  

      "Well, at least your whole world does.  All the people of Edom love you."  

      "And what about my enemies?  There are a few other kings out there who would like to take over my kingdom.  You know they've
plotted my overthrow more than once.  All they'd have to do to destroy me would be to take over my estate and kill my servants and
soldiers."  He liked to tease her with his simplistic answers to obviously complicated questions.  

      She didn't mind.  She just smiled and sipped her drink.  [4]

      Job became momentarily pensive.  "What would happen if I did lose everything?  I have thought of that so often.  What if my enemies
really did prevail?  I worry about that, Jobetta.  I know I shouldn't, but sometimes I worry about it."  

      "Well, they'll never succeed.  You are too strong and powerful for them.  You will always protect what is yours.  And that includes your
people.  You know they look up to you like a father."          

      "If they do, then that's good, " he replied bringing himself back to his usual good mood.  A ruler with a father image is a good
thing.  That's nice.  I hope they do.  I feel kind of fatherly toward them too."  [5]

      "Speaking of our children...."  

      He smiled at her ability to change the subject so smoothly.  

      "....I hope all their partying doesn't make them fat and lazy.  Every time they have an excuse, there goes another party."  

      "Now I wonder who they took that after."  

      "Well, I'm not that bad.  Whenever we have a banquet, it is for a good purpose."  

      "One thing for sure; they all get along.  For that many brothers and sisters to get along with one another that well is practically a

      "We have a good family, don't we, Job?  We've been very lucky.  God has certainly blessed us with our children."  [6]

      "Sir, there is a beggar at the door.  Should I give him the usual?"  

      "Yes, bread, some dried fish, dried fruit, and a skin to put water in.  And look at his clothes.  He may need a new cloak or something."  

      "Yes, sir.  By the way, I noticed some sores on his hands."  

      "I'm glad you noticed.  Give him some ointment for them.  And wish him God speed.  Don't forget that."  

      "Yes sir.  He'll be taken care of immediately."  [7]

      "Now, my sweet, you were saying?"  

      "We were talking about our children."  

      "Oh yes.  Doesn't one of them have a birthday coming up?"  

       "Yes, next week."  

      "Which one is that?  I've got ten birthdays to remember, plus yours.  And I can never keep them straight."  

      "Well, its...."  

       "Sir, there's someone else at the gate."  

      "Well, give him the usual - bread, fruit, meat...."  

      "No.  It's one of your farm hands."  

      "What is he doing here at this time of day?  Direct him in."  

      The young man entered and bowed before Job and Jobetta.  He was obviously shaken.  

      "Speak up.  Good or bad news, I will not punish  you for either."  

      "The oxen were plowing in your fields as usual, and the donkies were grazing nearby.  Then some raiders came and killed everyone
and took the livestock.  I hid in time so they could not see me.  Sir, there were too many of them.  All of us fighting them off would not have
mattered.  I'm not a coward."  

      Job was caught off guard.  He'd had herds rustled before, but not at the expense of so many lives.  The 500 head of oxen and 500
donkeys could be replaced.  But not those precious human lives.  

      Jobetta put her hand in his.  He looked at her and they tried to comfort one another.  

      "You may go now."  

      He'd forgotten to dismiss the messenger.  But before he had a chance to leave, another one was brought to Job.  

      "Yes, what is it?"  Job and his wife sat down.  

       "There was a terrible storm.  Thunder and lightning.  It caught the pasture on fire.  We all tried to rescue the sheep, but the fire was
too terrible, too fast.  The winds engulfed the plain in fire in a matter of minutes after the lightning struck.  All 7,000 sheep are dead now.  
And all your servants are dead except me."  

       "Oh Job.  Both in one day.  And with such rage.  Half our herds are annihilated.  What are we going to do?"  

      "Thank you for coming and telling us so soon.  You need to go home to your family now."  

      "Yes sir.  Thank you."  

      "Sir, another messenger."  

       Job felt his muscles tighten.  It couldn't be bad news again.  Or could it?  

       "Some Babylonian outlaws - a hoard of them - came upon us, divided up in to three raiding parties, and swept down on your camels
and carried them off.  They killed all the herdsmen but me, and I came immediately to tell you."  

     "The camels?  Not the camels too.  All 3,000?"  

      "Jobetta, stay calm.  This is not the end of the world."  [8]

      "But our entire estate has been wiped out.  And most of our servants have been killed.  We are desolate.  There is nothing left."  

      "Yes there is.  We still have our children, our health and our God.  So we are still rich."
                                          Part 2 ~ Loss of Children  

      Then turning to the messenger to dismiss him, he saw yet another one coming in.  His jaw set firm.  He rose to his feet, stood straight
and took the stance of a soldier.  A soldier preparing for attack.  A general.  No matter what it was, he was prepared.  He was strong.  

      "Sir. Ma'am."  

      The messenger looked at both husband and wife this time.  But he said no more.  

      "Speak up.  You need not fear.  You can tell me anything.  What is it?"  

      The messenger looked down at the floor and then over at her.  He was pale and shaking.  

      "Job, it's our children.  I know it is.  There is nothing left to bring us to our knees.  It is our children, isn't it?"  

      "Yes, ma'am.  It's your children."  

      Despite protocol, Jobetta moved as close to her husband as she could and he instinctively put his arm around her.  

      "Tell us.  What has happened to our precious ones?"  

      He took a deep breath and spoke slowly, almost in a whisper.  "Your sons and your daughters were feasting and drinking at the
oldest brother's house...."  

      "Partying again," she smiled amidst oncoming tears, trying to cling to living, happy children.  [9]

      "....when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house."  

      "A cyclone!  That muggy air this morning...."  

      "No!"  She knew what was coming.  

      "It collapsed on them and they are dead.  I am the only one who has escaped to tell you."  

      "No!  No!  No!"  

      "Leave us at once."  

      Instinctively the servants had already begun leaving the courtyard.  The two stood there weeping in each other's arms.  


      Jobetta pulled herself away from her husband and looked up into the sky.  "Why?  Why, God?  Why?"  She walked over to her chair
and slumped down in it.  

      Job walked over to the now closed gate.  He pounded his fists on it over and over.  "No!  Not my children!"  His now limp body slid
down the wall until he was prostrate on the ground.  

      Jobetta went over to him and sank down with him into the dust.  Once again amidst the sobbing they held on to each other.  "My
babies!  My babies!  They're gone!"  

      Alternately they called out in death-defying rage, and sank to whimpering helplessness.  In the midst of one of their times of
uncontrollable emotion they pulled at their royal robes and began to tear them.  

      In other rooms of the house there could be heard similar mourning and moaning.  Relatives of the house servants had been out in
those fields and killed - husbands, brothers, sons.  And some of the women had been at the elder son's home serving.  The mourning
engulfed Job's house and draped it in agony.  

      Before they knew it they were soaked.  Tears and the heat of the day had mingled and they were becoming weak and light headed.  
They knew they'd better go inside.  They made their way up the narrow steps to their rooms.  There they shut the door and fell on their
beds in exhaustion.  

      There would be no rest.  There could be no rest.  Their lamenting and wailing began anew.  And they held each other tight.  

      "Oh my sons.  My daughters.  My children.  Come back to us.  Don't disappear from our lives.  Come back.  Come back."  

      Sometimes there was silence.  How they tried to cling to their living children.  But they were fading away so fast.  

      "No!  Don't leave us!  Please!  Don't go!"  

      Job pounded on the bed and then got up and cast himself on the floor.  There he continued to pound his fist until it was bleeding.  
Jobetta knelt along side her husband.  

      "Why God?  Why did this have to happen to us?  Oh God, no.  Let it be a mistake.  Don't let it be.  Please God."  

      She put her head on her husband's back and lay prostrate in the floor with him.  Their sobs mingled and rang through the heavens.  

      They did not even know when the sun was gone.  They did not see the red glow that remained in the sky from the prairie fires still not
completely out.  They did not see the orange moon from the smoke.  They did not see the angels of mercy hovering over them in pity.  
       Eventually the sun rose again.  They had fallen asleep on the floor the last few hours of the night.  They were stiff.  Their eyes were
swollen.  Job's hands were cut.  They looked at one another, and the weeping began again.  

      "Our children?  Our children?"  

      "Yes, our children."  [10]

      They got up and moved back over to the bed where they slumped down together once again.  An eternity later they heard a knock.  

      Job got up and walked to the door.  Slowly he opened it.  Surely there could be no more bad news.  There was nothing more that
could happen to them now.  

      "Sir, here is some water.  Would you like breakfast?"  

      "No.  We cannot eat.  Thank you anyway." Job noticed the servant's eyes were swollen too.  He'd forgotten their mourning.  

      "How is everyone taking it?"  

      'Not very well, sir.  It has been a calamity on us all."  

      "Tell everyone to not do anything more than is necessary.  Tell them to go mourn their dead."  [11]

      The door was closed and Job took the water over to his wife.  He poured some into a goblet.  

      "Here.  You need to drink some of this.  Just a sip.  You need it."  

      She took a few sips and then motioned that this was all she wanted.  He took a swallow himself and put it on a table nearby.  Then he
took a deep breath.  

      "We need to go to the house today.  We need to take enough servants along to clear away the rubble.  We'll have to get the bodies
out as soon as possible and...."  

      "The bodies?"  She looked up at him.  "The bodies?  Our children are now mere bodies?" Her tears rushed out again.  

      He continued to talk.  "We will need to wash them, put clean clothes on them, and then bury them.  They need a good burial.  Do you
feel strong enough to go along?  Or would you rather stay here?"  

      She sat there a moment and began shaking her head.  "No...No...No..."  

      "My wife, what do you want to do?"  

      She looked into his eyes, as swollen as hers.  "I don't think I can bring myself to see them all broken up.  Can you do that?  I'll get the
trunks out I have some of their clothes in and pick out something for each of them to wear."  She smiled faintly.  "I'll get out festive
clothing.  They'd like that."  

      He smiled too and kissed her on the forehead.  He held her close awhile longer.  "Oh God of all things.  Give us strength."  

      Then he left.  She sat there alone a few moments, then got up to go to the room where the chest was.  She stood in front of her bed.  
She looked at the door, then out the window.  There was still some smoke mingled in the clouds.  Tears returned.  She sat back down.  

      "I can't.  I can't.  Oh, not my babies.  Not them."  

      Then she lay back down on the bed and sobbed once more.  After awhile she heard a knock on her door.  It was one of her maids.  
Knowing that Job had already left, she came on in, even though Jobetta had not acknowledged her knocking.  

      "Madam.  I have some bread here, and some broth.  Would you like either one of them?"  

      Jobetta looked up at her maid, and saw the strain.  

      "Oh my dear one.  Who was taken from you?  Was it your husband?"  

      The maid stood there a moment and tears began falling on already reddened cheeks.  

      "Yes.  It was my husband."  

      "You shouldn't be working today."  

      "I decided it would be better for me.  I need to keep busy."  

      "I suppose each of us has to cope in our own way."  [12]

      "You really do need this soup, ma'am.  Just a few swallows.  It will help you."  

      Jobetta got up, took the dishes from her maid, put them on a table, and then put her arms around her.  The two women stood there in
silent mourning.  

      "Your husband must have been about the same age as our children."  

      "Yes, he was."  

      Was?  He was?  They were?  All past tense now?  Gone now?  

      "Would you walk with me to the store room?  I need to get some clothes out."  Jobetta felt she could relate to the young lady.  She
needed someone who understood her sorrow just now.  

      "Yes, ma'am.  I'll go with you.  It will help keep me busy."  

      The two women left and went down the corridor, and then down the steps.  They crossed the courtyard, and went to the other side of
the house.  They walked through several more rooms and finally came to a large closet.  

      "The chest is in here.  I remember I put it here after their father's last birthday party.  All the children were here, and I gave them
special clothes to wear for the occasion.  They suggested I keep them here for his birthday celebration every year.  I thought that was
such a unique idea...."  

      Jobetta caught herself.  She was beginning to live again the good days.  But that was gone.  They were no more.  Bravely she looked
around the room until she saw the chest, and then quietly opened it.  The garments were still there.  She held them up one at a time with
a mother's critical eye and laid them on a nearby table.  It didn't look like any moths had gotten to them.  They were wrinkled, but the
wrinkles would fall out in a few days.  

      A few days?  No she didn't have a few days.  Her children would have to wear them like that.  There was no more time.  

      The two women gathered up the clothes and started back through the rooms and across the courtyard.  They went back upstairs,
and then toward the guest rooms.  Several years ago many of those rooms had belonged to the children while they were growing up.  

      Jobetta would never forget which room belonged to which child.  They went to the first room and opened the door.  The maid
followed.  They put the clothes down on the bed and Jobetta looked through them a moment.  

     "Here it is.  This outfit was his.  We will leave it on the bed until Job gets back.  His body will be lain in here for awhile until we can get
him all fixed up."

      The two women continued down the corridor, stopped in nine more rooms, and laid out nine more outfits.  Jobetta ran her hands
across them in an effort to smooth the creases out as best she could.  

      "Would you go get someone with a bowl of water and a cloth, to come up and run the cloth across these creases?  I think that will
help a little."  

      "Yes ma'am."  

      When she left, Jobetta stood there realizing that the young lady had been right.  Work is better.  Sitting and weeping is not good for

      Jobetta went back to the store room and looked through the things she'd saved through the years - things her children had played
with and treasured, and left at home for safe keeping.  She picked each one up carefully and thought of years past.  Finally she set them
aside in groups of ten.  Then she called for some of her maids to put them in baskets and go with her to distribute them to the proper
rooms.  Her children would be buried with their treasures.  

      Before she realized it, the sun was low in the sky and she heard the rattling of wagons outside the gate.  Her heart jumped.  It was
Job.  He had arrived with their children.  She stood where she was a moment.  Tears began to return.  

      "Now, Jobetta," she told herself.  "You cannot start crying again now.  You need your strength.  You need to be brave.  Your children
are waiting for you.  They need you right now.  They are helpless.  They need you.  Go to your children.  Be brave.  God will be there with
you." She took a deep breath.  "You can do it," she told herself.  

      Slowly and determinately she walked toward the gate.  Before she arrived it was opened and she saw her husband standing there,
his clothes dirty, his hands and face full of scratches.  It must have been so terrible hunting through the rubble.  

      "Oh my husband.  My husband." They went to each other and embraced.  The tears came again, but not nearly as deeply this time.   

      "Are the children here?  Did you get them all?"  

      "Yes.  They are all here.  All here for the last time.  I've brought them home to stay.  We will bury them outside in the garden."  

      Their whispers were so low, no one could hear them but each other.  That was just as well.  It was their private sorrow.  

      "I got their party clothes out."  She smiled ever so slightly.  Remember your birthday party?  They left their special clothes here.  They
were to be worn for all our birthday parties.  They did love us, didn't they?" The tears were always so close.  

      "Yes, they loved us.  And we loved them."  

      "Where are they?"  

      "I took five carts with me.  There are two on each cart.  They are wrapped up carefully, but we did not have time to clean them up at

      "Bring them in one at a time.  I'd like the girls first.  They were always so fussy about being clean.  They were so dainty.  We need to
clean them up first."  

      Lamps were lit by this time, but the preparations went on.  All night they went on.  One by one the children were brought in to the
court yard, placed on a table, carefully washed off, their hair combed, then wrapped in a blanket and carried to their rooms.  One by one
Jobetta dressed them in their party clothes, and put their treasures in their hands.  The last one was laid in his room at day break.  [13]

      Jobetta and her husband were now numb.  The tears were lost for awhile, and they entered a near dream world.  They lingered
between life and death with their children, and showed them love in their meager ways for the last time.  Time was growing short.  They
could not stop to rest quite yet.  

      Once daylight came, the graves were prepared.  One by one, then, the children were brought back down from their bedrooms for the
last time, taken to their graves, and buried.  By noon, about a day and a half since they first heard of the tragedy, they were all gone.  
Jobetta and Job sat among the graves the rest of the day, oblivious of the heat.  Then at sundown they slowly got up, walked back to their
empty silent house, and closed the door.  [14]

      "Tomorrow we will worship."  

      Jobetta looked at her husband through swollen eyes.  "Yes, we will worship."  

      The next day when Jobetta woke up, she smelled a fire down in the courtyard.  She knew it was Job and she knew why.  She went
down the steps to him.  Half way down she saw him prostrate on the ground in front of his altar.  She quickly went to him.  He was praying.  

      "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."  

      Such faith.  Jobetta admired her husband so much.  He was torn apart, yes.  But he never blamed God.  He asked God why as she
had, of course.  She never doubted God had a reason.  But what reason could it have been?  

      "Oh God," she prayed, "help us understand.  All is gone.  The wealth of our livelihood is gone.  The wealth of our children is gone.  
Our lives are now without meaning."  

      Job heard her.  "No, my dear.  Our lives are not without meaning.  God will show us the reason some day why we had to go through
this.  But we must never doubt God." [15]
                                           Part 3 ~ Loss of Health  

      Still she wished for her husband's faith.  He seemed to pull out of the grief sooner than her.  She envied this ability.  But some time
later she began to wonder if he'd just hidden his grief.  He didn't seem to have the energy he used to.  

      Other than this, things went back to some semblance of normality.  Of course the banquet was canceled.  And the house was much
quieter, what with no visits from the children and not much money to pay servants.  What maids and servants they still had were in
mourning themselves.  

      Weeks passed.  Then months.  One day she noticed Job as he sat in the court yard moving one leg in an attempt to get it

      "What's wrong with your leg?"  

      "Oh nothing.  There's just a spot on it that is irritated, and I can't seem to find a comfortable position."  

      A few days later the spot had grown and was beginning to fester.  

      "Oh dear.  You have a boil.  We'd better put some ointment on that.  They can be so painful and last so long."  She wrapped a thick
band around it so he could comfortably sit down.  Job went back to his work trying to figure out some way to salvage his estate.  But the
pressures were hard on him.  Sometimes he wondered how he could ever rebuild it.  [16]

      "Not another one."  

      "What's that, Job?"  

      "I think that's another boil starting to fester on my elbow.  My arm's so stiff I can hardly bend it.  How am I supposed to get any work

      "Just slow down and rest more.  You've been going too much and you're getting into things too fast."  

      "But we have so much to rebuild."  

      "It will still be there.  Really, you need to slow down."  [17]

      A few days later Job noticed still another boil starting up.  This time it was on his stomach.  He was beginning to worry.  This could lay
him up for awhile.  

      Then another one - on his cheek. And another - on his ear.  Another - on his finger.  Then his ankle.  Then the back of his neck.  
They kept erupting, all over him.  His forehead, his back, the bottom of his feet, his chest, in his hair.  Even one on his lip.  What was
happening to him?  

      Job got so he could not move without the stinging pain.  He could not walk.  He could not eat.  He could no longer wear anything other
than a loin cloth.  Within a month from the appearance of the first boil, Job had lost thirty pounds, every one of his bones were showing
through his skin, his flesh had started turning black and blue, and his hair was falling out.  His breath was foul, and when he spoke it was
amid groans of pain.  He said he felt like he was on fire.  [18]

      Jobetta did the best she could with him.  But he continued to get worse.  She prayed earnestly for him.  Oh how she prayed.  But God
did not seem to be answering her prayers.  

      "Please, God.  He is in such pain.  Help him.  Heal him."  

      She searched for remedies with which to treat him.  But most of the time he just sat by a spring outside his house near his children's
graves.  With a piece of broken pottery he sat all day and scraped his boils, one at a time.  

      One day she heard loud wailing from a hill close to their house, overlooking the spring.  

      "No!  No!" she heard.  "It couldn't be!  It's not him!"  

      She ran out to see what was going on.  She ran up the hill to see who it was.  It was four of Job's friends who had heard the news of
his misfortunes.  They had come to comfort him, but when they saw him, they could not bring themselves to even come close to him.  She
told them what all had happened, and they wept together.  

      "Have you been keeping up your prayers?"  

      "Oh yes, I am praying."  [19]

      "What terrible sin did he commit, then, to cause this?"  

      "He says there is no sin.  He has always taken in the travelers and helped the poor.  He has not abused his riches.  He has judged
the people with mercy.  He has honored God in all things.  He says there is no sin."  

      She led them to her husband.  When they saw him without recognizing him they wept again.  Without a word, they got their traveling
supplies out, laid them on the ground, and sat down.  They stayed there without speaking.  Whenever Job wept they wept.  Whenever Job
groaned they groaned.  They searched their memories.  Was there a remedy they had ever heard of that could help?  They could think of
none.  Was there a sin he could have committed to cause this terrible thing to come upon them?  That had to be the answer.  But Job was
their king.  They respected him.  He would have to speak first.  He did not want to talk.  [20]

      Finally, after a full week, he could hold it in no longer and Job spoke.  

      "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, 'A boy is born!'....Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the
womb?...Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come?...What I
feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me."  [21]

      One of the servants who was tending to Job immediately went to the house.  "Job has broken his silence at last."  

      She ran to him.  And she listened.  "Oh my dear husband," she whispered.  His thoughts went back and forth.  He did not know what
to say.  All he knew was that it was not for any sin that he was suffering or had lost all his children.  Through it all he knew he had done
nothing so wrong.  

      Jobetta wept for him.  She longed to hold him and tell him everything would be okay.  But they wouldn't be okay.  Everything important
to them was gone now.  And it could not be returned.  Everything was gone.  Dead.  And now he was dying.  

      Ever since he gained his position, he had been afraid of losing it.  His wealth, his family, his health - everything that had ever meant
anything to him.  He'd always been afraid of that.  And sure enough, it had happened.  But why?  He hadn't done anything wrong.  Why
was God allowing this?  There was nothing left worth living for.  How much pain there was.  Oh how he wanted to die.  [22]

      "Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand
and cut me off!  Then I would still have this consolation - my joy in unrelenting pain:  that I had not denied the words of the Holy One."  

      "Through all this, even wanting to die, he still maintains his devotion to God," she thought.  "God won't do anything for him.  He won't
heal him, he won't free him of his pain.  God probably isn't even listening."  

      "If I have sinned, what have I done to you, Oh watcher of men?  Why have you made me your target?  Have I become a burden to
you?  Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?"  

      Was he beginning to think he'd committed some secret sin, some sin even unrealized by him?  "Oh Job," she thought, "quit searching
your soul.  You've been a good man.  There is nothing.  God has no right to punish you like this!"  

      "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face....Only grant me these two things, Oh God, and
then I will not hide from you:  withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors."  [23]

      "My dear husband," she thought as she listened to him in his confused misery.  "If I could only help you.  If only I could release you
from your pain."  

      Yet his so-called friends kept harassing him about his sins.  Surely there was something he had done that was terrible.  Why couldn't
these so-called friends leave him alone?  Couldn't they tell they were just making him worse?  But she dared not send them away.  That
was up to her husband.  

      Job spoke again to his friends.  "Miserable comforters are you all!  Will your long-winded speeches never end?  What ails you that
you keep on arguing?...My face is red with weeping, deep shadows ring my eyes; yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer
is pure."

      She continued to reflect.  "But what about God?  He is no longer your friend.  Look what he has done to you."  

      Still Job hoped.  His faith.  Where was he getting such faith even in his anger?  

      "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, I will see
God."  [24]

      "My husband," she groaned over and over.  "How can I stand to watch you suffer?  You'd be better off dead.  Oh my husband." But
she only whispered these words.  How could she say them aloud?  

      Job continued to struggle.  One minute he was wishing for death.  Another minute he was saying how righteous he'd been.  And now
he had reached a new conclusion:  "He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  

      "Gold, Job?  Look at you.  Your flesh is decaying while you are still alive.  You are a living dead person!" His friends continued to beg
him to admit what he'd done wrong.  She knew better, but what good was all his morality and integrity now?  

      "I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity.  I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it."  

      "My darling husband.  What is left to live for?  I would sacrifice having you with me just to see you at peace."  [25]

      "Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me...when the young men
saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet...because I rescued the poor...I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.  I
was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger....Men listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel....When I
smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.  I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt
as a king among his troops."  

      Finally she could hold her peace no longer.  

      "Job.  Job.  I cannot stand watching you linger in a living death like this.  God has forsaken you.  You have been a good man, and he
has betrayed you." She sobbed and looked at him, and held her arms as though he were in them.  

      "My husband Job.  I have lost everything but you.  And now you may as well be gone.  I hurt for you, I agonize for you.  If I could just
do something for you; but I can't.  I see you suffer day after day.  Face it.  You will never get well.  Why should you believe any
differently?  Our livelihood was taken from us.  Our children were taken from us.  And now my husband has been taken.  I can't bear to
watch you in your agony any longer.  Just forget about God.  Forget all that righteousness; what good did it do you?  Send God on his
way.  Then maybe you can die and find peace."  [26]


      She had said it.  How hard it had been to say.  How she loved him.  How she would miss him.  Could he understand that?  Could he
know it was for his own good she was speaking?  

      Shocked, Job replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"  

      "Job, if I only had your faith.  How can you believe any more?  She sat down in the dust beside him and cried uncontrollably.  Who is
left to believe in?  If I only had your faith.  But I can't.  I can't.  Not any more."  

      He lifted his hand and very gently placed it on her head.  How he wished he could hold her and comfort her and tell her everything
would be all right.  But he himself did not know if everything would be all right or if anything could ever be all right for that matter.  Faith?  
He believed God knew what he was doing, but how he agreed with her in that one thing:  He longed so much to die.  He just couldn't do it
that way.  He couldn't do it without God.  [27]

      He looked over at his friends.  Their expressions were such as to say, "Look what you're putting her through, all because you
won't confess what you've done so terrible.  If you'd just do that, you'd get your health back.  Then you wouldn't torment yourself and your
wife like this."  But Job knew better.  

      Job's struggle continued.  Why was he suffering?  He knew he hadn't committed any terrible sin.  But what was it?  Both he and his
friends kept reminding each other that they could not really understand the Creator of all things any more than they could understand
how he made everything.  

      Gradually Job began to see some new things.  He saw his fear; he had feared losing everything, and sure enough, he did.  He saw
himself as righteous, but had to admit it was out of fear of dread destruction by God.  He began to see that he had spent all his time
defending himself rather than defending God.  He had felt so wise and understanding in the ways of God, but suddenly there were things
he did not understand.  Perhaps he had not given God the faith and respect he should have.  [28]

      At last Job was forced to admit it.  "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand....My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have
seen you." Job had done nothing wrong, that was true.  But he had not been good enough.  He hadn't had the faith in God that a man so
dedicated to God should have had.  God knew this.  And God had finally put the point across.  How grateful Job was for this new insight.  

      Job's boils began to break open and drain.  One by one.  He thought surely now God was ready to take him.  But one day he felt
better.  One of them seemed to be healing a little.  It wasn't as swollen and red.  He began to get hungry.  

      "I'd like some of that soup you make so well," Jobetta.  

      She could hardly believe her ears.  "Soup?  You're hungry?  Oh yes.  Right away!"  

      The days and weeks passed.  Job was finally able to put regular clothes on again.  Then he went back to the house and his regular
bed.  Soon he was eating with the others.  The fat came back on his flesh and made his bones disappear.  He was his old self again.  

      And Jobetta.  She, too, had been renewed.  Had it not been for her husband's faith, he would have given up and died, and she'd be
completely alone now.  But he had not given up as she had.  Oh such faith.  Oh how she needed him.  

      His friends went back home and spread the word that Job would be fine now.  He was growing stronger each day.  His brothers and
sisters came, brought good food with them to strengthen him, and consoled him in his losses.  Other friends came too.  There seemed to
be a never-ceasing flow of friends and relatives now coming to the house.  And each one brought food and a gift of silver, along with a
gold ring.  It was not a lot for each one to give, and yet it added up to enough for Job to start his herds all over again.  

      One day Jobetta approached Job and suggested he sit down in the courtyard with her in their old favorite place.  She was smiling so.  
It had been such a long time since he'd seen her smile like this.  He was thrilled.  It was good for her.  It was good for him.  

      "What is it?  Good news?"  

      "Job, it is wonderful news.  God has been gracious to us."  

      He could hardly contain himself.  "Well, tell me!"  

      "We are going to have a child.  I'm pregnant."  

      She sat there beside him beaming.  His mouth fell open, he stared, then he jumped up, pulling her up to him, and gave her a most
wonderful hug.  He swung her around and around in the courtyard.  

      "A child!  You're giving me a child!  Oh praise God, who showers us with blessings!"  

      They stopped just as abruptly and he stared at her again.  

      "Maybe we shouldn't be doing this.  Why don't you sit back down."  

      She was so happy.   

      Eight months later, she gave birth to a new son.  Not only that, but she became pregnant shortly thereafter, and presented Job with a
second son.  It did not stop until she had borne the same number of children she had had before - seven sons and three beautiful

      They were the delight of them both.  In fact, Job decided to give his daughters just as much of an inheritance as his sons.  Nothing
was too good for his daughters.  They were so much like their mother.  And their inheritance would be plenty.  For by the time they were
grown he had rebuilt his estate and it was double the size it had been before.  

      Sometimes in the early evening, they sat in the courtyard drinking juice.  "God has been good to us.  He has blessed us far above
what we ever thought or deserved."  

      She would think, "If only my faith had been as great as yours when all was lost.  I wanted it to be, but it was so hard.  Can God ever
forgive me?"  

      Then she would answer herself.  "Of course he can.  Indeed he has.  I have faith in that."  [30]
                                          THOUGHT QUESTIONS

                                        Part 1 ~  Loss of Possessions

1.        Jobetta [name the author made up] was wife of King Job (or Jobab) over the small kingdom of Edom, according to Genesis 36:31,33.  
Considering the population, she could today be compared with the wife of a mayor; he was head of a "city-state."  She seemed to be successful and
happy in every way.  But she and her husband were about to be tested by fire to find out for sure if they were truly happy.  Recall times in your life
when you lost something precious and then found out it wasn't as important as you had thought.

2.        As far as we can tell, the day of Job's and Jobetta's tragedy was apparently just as ordinary as any other (Luke 17:27,28).  Do you think that
most tragedies of this magnitude have warnings or not?  Which could you cope with easiest, and how?

3.        Considering the size of the fires that destroyed their property that day, it is doubtful Jobetta could have missed the first sign of something wrong
- smoke in the sky.  There is no indication she made any inquiries about it.  Possibly she felt annoyance that people could allow themselves to get into
such predicaments, and also pity for them from afar.  When we hear of relative strangers facing loss of property or loved ones, do we normally run to
their aid or do we stay away to keep such thoughts out of our lives?  Why?  (Luke 10:30-33)

4.        As a political leader, Job faced the daily possibility of being assassinated or destroyed by an enemy, and Jobetta faced being a widow and/or left
destitute.  Tell of some difficult times you have faced or could face because of people challenging you or your husband's leadership.  What things about
yourself did you discover that you hadn't realized before?  (Consider 1 Samuel 20:22-24; 18:8,9 for example.)

5.        Job worried about losing everything (Job 3:25).  Do you think if someone loses their faith because of tragedy as Jobetta did, it is more likely to
occur if we think the possibility through ahead of time or avoid the thought?  (Remember, Job and his wife responded differently to their tragedy.)  
What is the difference in worrying and thinking through something ahead of time?

6.        Jobetta's children seemed to have gotten along with each other quite well, taking turns hosting get-togethers.  Yet Job seemed a little concerned
over their spiritual maturity and prayed for them in case of moments of weakness.  Isn't it the wish of all mothers to have children who get along with
the family and only have occasional times of bad judgment?  Do you think children turn out this way because they have had good home lives?  Tell about
children who did well despite poor home lives (don't name names).  In what percent of cases in the church do you think all of the children in a family
turn out relatively good with no "black sheep"?  Why?

7.        Job and his wife helped the needy at every opportunity (Job 31:16-22).  Have you ever helped someone not ever dreaming some day you would
be in the same circumstance?  Did your helping such people before hand help you when you went through the same thing?  How?

8.        Rulers of old sometimes executed people who brought them bad news.  We don't do that, but are still upset when it happens.  What are some
bad approaches and good approaches to revealing bad news to someone?  (Proverbs 31:26 may help.)

9.        Tell of a time when several tragedies of a financial nature occurred to you or a friend.  Compare the perspective you felt about that first loss
when it occurred and later after several other losses had occurred.  Could 1 Timothy 6:6-8 help?

GOOD WORK:  Read the newspaper and send letters of encouragement to people who have been burned out or suffered some other financial loss.  
Enclose $5 or whatever you can as a token of care.

                                          Part 2 ~  Loss of Loved Ones

10.        Some people refuse to allow anyone to reveal a death to other people for hours or even days in a desperate effort to keep that person alive in
their minds a little longer.  How can you gently help such a person during this time to prepare for the reality?  Consider Psalm 85:10.  (Keep in mind
there will be a funeral they probably need to attend.)

11.        Is there any right or wrong way to express indescribable grief?  Who sets the standards (2 Samuel 18:33; 19:4)?

12.        When several people go through the same grief at the same time, what is communication among them like?  Give some examples.  See also 1
Samuel 30:4 and 2 Samuel 15:30.

13.        What are different ways people cope with the loss of a close loved one?  Job 21:1-3a is one coping method.

14.        What are some ways to lend strength to someone going to the funeral home to select a casket and return later to see a loved one in it?  What are
some states of mind that help people go through this?  Psalm 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:54 could help.  Suggest other scriptures.

15.        Suggest some funeral songs that would help mourners.  Share personal experiences of comforting funerals.  What songs would you prefer
yourself and why?

16.        Have you ever gone through periods of doubting God after a tragedy?  Did "If God is so good...." enter your thoughts (Psalm 115:2,3)?  Tell
about it.

17.        It takes courage to try to rebuild what took half a lifetime to build the first time.  What drives people to rise up and rebuild (Nehemiah 1:3; 4:6;
James 5:11)?  What about those who do not?  Which are you?

18.        When we are under emotional stress, our natural body defenses are also stressed and broken down.  Ulcers, strokes, high blood pressure,
respiratory problems, skin rashes, or boils can result.  Often it is because our mind cannot take any more stress and our body won't stop and listen.  
What does it take to get over such stress diseases?  See Psalm 46:1-3, 10.

GOOD WORK:  Read the newspaper and/or church bulletin.  Send notes of sympathy to people who have lost loved ones; share in one or two sentences
a similar loss you experienced.  Give them hope.

                                  Part 3 ~  Loss of a Personal God

19.        It is one thing to pray and ask God why after a tragedy has irrevocably occurred.  It is another to pray for a tragedy to end before it becomes
irrevocable.  If God does not intercede and the tragedy occurs after many prayers, how can people begin to doubt either themselves or God?  Contrast 2
Samuel 12:15-23 and Job 13:15.

20.        Job's friends sat in silence with him for a long time.  What are some benefits of this type comfort (Ecclesiastes 3:7)?

21.        What benefit is there in allowing a person with their faith being tested to first explain which parts of the trial are bothering them the most (Acts
7:22-28; Job 16:1-4; 19:1-4)?

22.        Job mentioned several times that what he most greatly feared had at last come about (Job 3:25).  Discuss people living out a self-fulfilling
prophecy (Numbers 13:25,30f, 14:40,45).  What benefit can occur by being forced to face and overcome one's fears?

23.        Job seemed to know the limitations of his own faith, in the same way a person being tortured to betray information hopes they can hold out
before a breaking point arrives.  Tell of times when you or a friend stubbornly held on to a cause you believed in despite evidence to the contrary.  Also
read 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 and note the times wisdom and foolishness are mentioned.

24.        How can arguing with someone whose faith is being tried make things worse?  How can we discover the thread that keeps their faith going so
we can reinforce it?  Consider "hope" and "evidence" in Hebrews 11:1.

25.        Have you ever wished you could suffer and/or die in the place of a loved one (2 Samuel 18:33)?  Tell about it.

26.        The word used by Job's wife and translated "curse" is
barak in the Hebrew and usually translated "bless" or "kneel down."  It indicates a kind of
submission to a superior will.  Since Job was displeased with her suggestion, she must have been referring to submission to a God who didn't care any
more so Job may as well give in to God's distorted will.  Tell of times in your life when your view of God became distorted or you thought he wanted
bad to happen to you (Exodus 16:3; Number 14:3).

27.        Have you ever wished a suffering loved one could go ahead and die and get it over with?  (1 Samuel 31:34)  Compare your feelings with Job's

28.        After searching his soul during his terrible illness, Job began to face the fact that he obeyed God out of fear of God destroying him if he didn't
(Job 31:21-23).  Intellectually Job knew God had to exist and even had a lot of pride in this knowledge (41:34).  But he had never really seen God - the
God who is love.  When things challenge our faith in a loved one (such as gossip), what is it that keeps us having faith in that person when you don't
know all the facts (1 Corinthians 13:7)?

29.        Job thought he had God all figured out, but finally realized He was much too awesome to make that possible (42:5, 6).  At this point Job went
on to the next level of faith -faith out of love instead of fear, and knowledge of the Word of God with humility instead of pride.  Do you know of people
who knew the Bible well, but dropped from the church?  How can it be dangerous to brag how much we know about the Bible?  Is it safe to think we
can know all the answers?

30.        How do you think Job was able to help restore his wife's faith?  Consider Proverbs 17:17; Job 19:25; 1 John 4:7, 8.  Did you ever have such an
experience?  Share it.

GOOD WORK:  Write a note to someone who does not attend worship.  Tell them a loving God wants to make life easier for them.  Open up
communication and ask them to call you if they'd like, just to talk about it.