I've read Job several times, and it's not an easy book, because it introduces the idea that God allows us to suffer. Satan asked to attack Job, and God allowed it. That's not a truth any of us like to hear, so I don't think that the book gets the kind of attention it deserves.
As I read through the first few verses, I was struck by something I'd never noticed before: Job mourned! Job mourned the loss of his children and wealth. Job 1:20a says: At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.
Now I've read a lot of books about suffering since I became ill, and they all quote James 1:2: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. There are other verses that encourage sufferers to rejoice in the pain. So I've spent six years faking joy and mustering up happiness at my constant pain. I've come up with good reasons for God to allow me to hurt: I've learned patience and have had to release my independence and pride. I've looked for lessons. I've searched my heart again and again for unconfessed sin that would explain the need for discipline. Most of all, I've tried to keep up a smiling face, no matter how bad it gets.
Reading the verse about Job broke something open in my heart, and in the days since, I find myself crying at the slightest thing, and I believe it's because I've never allowed myself to mourn. I had 31 years of good health that I am truly grateful for, but I have no reason to believe that they are ever coming back. It's time to mourn the loss of my health, to cry for the years of pain I've suffered and for the years of pain yet to come. If I had ashes I would pour them over my head to show the world that I'm tired of pretending that everything is okay. I'm sad and I'm hurting, and just like Job, I don't understand why.
The devotionals I've read through the years repeat the words of Job's friends: it's my fault because of my sin. I'm not pretending to be blameless and upright like Job. I also know that my suffering is nothing compared to his or many others who are suffering in the world today. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't mourn like he did.
I can't be the mom or wife I used to be. I can't keep up housework, and I can't work a full-time job to provide for my family. I often let people in my life down by being unable to attend events important to them. I haven't had a day without pain in almost six years, and the doctors have no idea why.
I declare that today I am beginning to mourn for all that I've lost and all those I've disappointed. I will mourn the person I used to be, and I will not pretend that I am glad or thankful that I am in pain. I invited my husband to mourn along with me, because it's been a major loss in his life as well.
Mourning doesn't last forever, and tears cried bring healing to the heart. I pray that when I am done mourning, I can truly find some blessings in my illness, without having to fake it for my friends. I know that the sadness won't last forever; grief wanes over time, and I promise that this won't become a daily list of my misery.
Job was a true man of God, and He didn't begrudge Job his mourning. But what's most important is the second half of Job 1:20: Then he fell to the ground in worship. I intend to follow his example. I will mourn, and I will worship, and I know that someday, even if it's in the next life the Lord will bless me as he did Job: the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
Sarah's Garden by Kelly Long is the first book in the Patch of Heaven series. Sarah King loves her life with her Amish family in the Allegheny Mountains where she spends much of her time working on her large garden that provides produce for her entire family as well as the family's roadside stand. After her elder sister, Chelsea, marries, Sarah's father assigns her to work at the stand and take care of the customers. Sarah is terribly shy and most comfortable with her heirloom seeds and plants, but new Englischer veterinarian Grant Williams touches her heart and gently brings her out of her shell. But their relationship is forbidden, because to marry him would be to leave the only world she's ever known and the life she truly loves. I absolutely loved Sarah and Grant's romance. Too often in romances, even Christian ones, the hero and heroine meet and have instant chemistry and then after only a few brief meetings decide they are in love with each other, and the writers would have us believe that they live happily ever after. Long allows Sarah and Grant to spend much of the book talking together and learning about each other. The growing romance definitely has some chemistry, but these are two characters that genuinely care about each other, are best friends as well as being in love. Long has written and beautiful and believable romance, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book for review.