Job. With a long “o,” not a short “o.” You know, the guy in the Bible we compare all our struggles against. And he generally wins.
This man’s livestock are slaughtered and stolen by thieves, his house is demolished in a tornado, burying his ten children and extensive servant staff. Only his nagging, cynical wife and a servant survive. He’s afflicted with “painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.” Now a pariah of society, his “friends” accuse him of blasphemy.
I admire Job’s honesty, reverence, and brazen confidence when approaching God. In reference to destruction and God’s sovereignty, he even asks, “If it is not He, then who is it?” (9:24). “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him, I will surely defend my ways to His face” (13:15). “I will not deny my integrity…” (27:5).
The end of this book contains a passage that intrigues me every time I read it. And I think I finally understand.
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (42:10).
During a rough time in college, I found myself in somewhat of a depression. My prayers were pitiful and consumed with requests for myself. I was pleading on my own behalf for things I thought I needed, wallowing in what I thought was sorrow. Something changed when I learned of another girl’s tragedy and heartbreak. I began to pray for her instead of myself…and the oppressive clouds lifted a little. My eyes were opened to the ache of people around me and I realized my trial wasn’t so trying after all.
A close friend recounted the same situation to Joey and I this weekend. He’d been going through a “dry spot” spiritually. Prayers were vapid and consumed with self. Then he learned of Finn’s struggles. He said Finn gave him reason to pray again..something to fight for on his knees. Beautiful.
I think something transforming happens in us when our prayers are for others. Not that we shouldn’t voice our personal concerns with God, because I think that’s cathartic. But I’ve found prayer to be more powerful when it’s for someone else. You have prayed fervently for us and for Finn through this difficult season, and we have honestly felt their effects. Finn’s extra sleep at night has made my mind a little clearer, and I’ve found those wee hours to be a divine, secret time of prayer. I learned this from my sister-in-law, Leah. I pray for the children (born and unborn) of my friends, for healing of relationships, for my family, for Joey and for Finn. Not for myself. Job was a wise man.