Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
The following is an excerpt from They Were Real (c) 2014
Fictionalized, and inspired by the Bible book of Job 1:1–3 ; 42
An old man groans playfully while a small boy climbs on his knee. On the floor are six more energetic youth of varying heights and maturity. The man has called them to come and listen to what he hopes will one day be as profound for each of them as to him.
His name is Job (pronounced Jobe), and he is sharing a moment with his great-grandchildren. He clears his throat in mock preparation. “Well, once upon a time there was a young man named Job.”
The children giggle.
“I was happy. I had a family, my business, and loved God. When I was a little older, successful people started to come to me for advice on all sorts of things—business, religion, and even fatherhood.” Job tousles a five-year-olds hair. “I thought I was smart.”
“And then you learned your lesson!” Ten-year-old Nabid teases. He elbowed his sister to boast.
Job’s eyes brighten as he laughs with the precocious boy. “You know those seats by the city gate? That is where I used to spend all my time. My days were a mix of running my business and giving advice.”
“Sounds boring,” a teenage girl says, tossing her hair over her shoulder.
“It was a busy place, much like now. It was not boring to me because I taught people about matters of life and faith! I thought I understood God. I believed as long as I lived a good life, made wise choices, did not hurt anyone, and earned respect for my opinions, I was not going to suffer. This untruth sheltered me.”
Job pauses for a full minute, choked with memories. His eyes are suddenly wet. “I lost all ten of my sons and daughters in a terrible accident.”
“That’s when you got sick.” Sympathetic nods circle the group. The adolescent boy who spoke put his arm around his little brother’s shoulders.
“Yes. All I owned was taken through crime and natural disaster. Disease spoiled my place of authority. People who once thought me important ran away. I was helpless. Finally, it was I in need of support instead of being the one who offered it.
“I wondered who this God I had always worshiped is. Why did he allow this to happen? It surprised me when life did not continue as usual,” Job says.
He continued. “I did learn, Nabid. Nothing in God’s world is a mistake. We cannot, I cannot, understand this. It is beyond me even though I am very old. Because I cannot grasp this truth, I sometimes confuse who is the author of my pain.”
Job lowers the fidgeting child from his lap.
“God is not confused. Yes, I thought I knew him, children. Truth emerged proving my beliefs were incomplete. I thought to do what he expects would always lead to rewards. Turns out he owes me nothing.
“I thought I was capable of keeping up a righteous life. After trying so hard, it became clear I am powerless. I do not control anything, including God’s plan for me.”
Job takes a deep, contented breath. “Yes, I thought I knew him. It took great suffering for me to see he is God and I am but a man.
“And then our grandpas and grandmas were born,” said a quiet voice.
“Yes. And then your mommies and daddies and…” Pointing to each of his audience, Job laughed and said, “You , you, and you, you too, …” When he was finished, silence replaced levity.
“Children, hear and ponder this—it is joy to know that only God can understand exactly what we need. Go now, and think on that.”
Today’s Helpful Word
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.