Turning Points: Job & One String
Where did I go wrong? I was only trying to illustrate Job from the Bible suddenly losing his family and all his possessions. I said, “At any time, your calm and reasonable life can be disrupted and we stumble and fall…” so to make my point, I deliberately stumbled down the steps fully intending to catch myself. Somehow, I really lost my balance in the act of falling and really hit the floor… hard. In my enthusiasm to make a point, I nearly ruined the service and one of my knees in the process. I’m really getting old!
Despite my idiotic flair for the dramatic, stumbling is an unfortunate element of life.
At any time…
- The doctor asks to see you in her office to discuss the results of a recent biopsy.
- Your employer schedules a personal appointment. There are rumors of lay offs.
- Your husband confesses he is unfaithful and wants out of the marriage.
- On the way to work, a sleepy driver runs a stop sign directly in front of you.
- Your daughter is arrested for shoplifting and reveals a three-year-old drug addiction.
What do you say? What do you do? How could this happen? What went wrong? The world around you becomes a blur as you find yourself spinning out of control. The pavement that seemed so firm and sure moments ago has unexpectedly shifted and you find yourself falling hard. I don’t like admitting it but if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. So, Larry… are you just trying to ruin my day? No! I’m trying to prepare you for the next catastrophe.
The best Biblical example of stumbling is the story of Job, a prosperous farmer living in the land of Uz.
Job is described by God as “the finest man in all the earth – a man of complete integrity.” (Job 1:8) But before you can say “stumble,” Job through no fault of his own loses his possessions, his family and even his health until he is left sitting on an ash heap scrapping his itching, boil covered skin with a broken piece of pottery. Sitting with Job are Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.
Job cries out to God proclaiming his innocence while his so-called friends begin to offer possible explanations:
- Maybe, you did something wrong?
- Could it be your children’s fault?
- Somebody must have done something wrong!
- You are simply being disciplined.
- Don’t be angry with God!
- Shut up; you have no right to complain.
Whoa! With friends like these guys, who needs… friends?
But don’t get too smug. Job’s friends actually represent our own well-meaning response when people around us suddenly find themselves stumbling. Instead of compassion, you offer cheap explanations. Instead of help, I offer unwanted criticism. Instead of empathy we offer slanderous gossip. Meanwhile Job, confused and even angry at times continues crying out to almighty God…
The immensely talented violinist, Nicolo Paganini, was giving a concert accompanied by a full orchestra before a standing room only crowd. Suddenly one string snapped and hung uselessly on his violin. But instead of stopping the concert, Nicolo frowned in concentration, made musical adjustments and continued to play. Then to everyone’s surprise another string broke and a third leaving only one string on Paganini’s violin. What would Nicolo Paganini do next?
Dr. Victor Frankl, a Jew, became a prisoner during the Nazi holocaust. At one point, the doctor was marched into a Gestapo courtroom for the usual false trial. His captors had taken away his home and family, his freedom, all of his possessions and forced him to endure months of torture and backbreaking slave labor. There he stood under the glaring lights being interrogated and falsely accused in the hands of brutal, sadistic men. Dr. Frankl had nothing left… or did he?
Just when Job thinks all is lost: “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind.” (38:1) Will Job receive the answer from God he so desperately seeks? What about this mysterious conversation between God and Satan? Can the story of Nicolo Paganini help us survive life’s stumbles when all that remains is one string? Will Dr. Victor Frankl help us discover hope when all seems hopeless?
Answers and more soon but until then, look at the book of Job.