“Why is light given to one burdened with grief, and life to those whose existence is bitter?” (Job 3:20, HCSB)
In the well-known story of Job, adversity came upon him to the extent that he lost everything including his wealth, family, and health. When his three friends came to sympathize and comfort him, Job posed the question in this verse.
In Job’s bout with depression he was unable to see any good or meaning to his past or future life.
And the grief counseling provided by his friends quickly degraded to faultfinding that seemed to drive Job to self-indulgent self-righteousness.
Like Job, for most of my life I had enjoyed the benefits of a “successful” lifestyle and had never really encountered significant personal tragedy. Until I experienced personal tragedy for myself, I never realized how fragile a person’s psyche can be in confronting adversity.
I always supposed myself to have a high level of mental and emotional toughness that made me invulnerable to the despondency caused by the misfortunes of life.
So I never dreamed I would be able to relate to Job!
When adversity came upon me, I often found myself falling into despair over some insignificant event of the day or by recalling some previously forgotten memory. Sometimes, I even imagined how things might have been had the tragedy not occurred or had God intervened according to my specifications.
So maybe I’m more psychologically fragile and not as well-adjusted as I had supposed I was! I had to throw myself on God’s mercy!
But, in searching for my own mental and emotional stability in adversity, I discovered an answer to Job’s question:
But there is a dark side to vulnerability, because it also makes us susceptible to other voices that may include our own despair or the well-intentioned but maladroit advice of others like Job received from his friends.
That’s why it’s not a place we can stay for long.
Yet, neither should we be impervious to the overwhelming emotions that the tragic realities of life can stir up.
Faith is the spiritual interplay between these opposing psychological forces and faith is how we find resolution to our distress.
Through your vulnerability you receive God’s grace, and then God can develop your faith into an invulnerable faithfulness that helps you endure life’s difficulties.
Furthermore, God grows your faith so it can be shared with others.
Experiencing the pathos of personal tragedy elicits God’s overwhelming lovingkindness to sustain you past your anguish. And in so doing, you will then be empowered to share God’s grace with other suffering ones.