A Lesson on Grief from Job’s Wife

This year has dealt a number of losses to my family. Whether it’s a job or a family member, a loss is painful and it needs to be grieved. Reflecting on it, sent me back to a post I wrote about grief and marriage many years ago.

I still think Job’s wife gets a bum deal.

Don’t raise your eyebrows at me. I feel Mrs. Job’s pain. She faced all the same trials as Job and people don’t cut her any slack.

Why is that?

Grief Bites

Job and Mrs. Job had a bad day. A very bad day. When the messengers came bearing tidings of distress, she might have been sewing or cooking or sweeping out the house .

The beasts of burden (your vehicle)? All stolen.

Fire from the sky burned up all the sheep (your bank account)? Wait. It’s almost shearing season. What about wool  and mutton this year?

Those camels (your job)? Stolen! They carried trading goods to the nearest city. All of those goods gone and now there’s no way to transport anything else. What will we do?

Her jaw dropped. She dug at her ears. She couldn’t have heard these servants correctly.

Then the other shoe dropped. She knew because Job turned away from the last messenger with tears streaming down his face. It was true! Her strong sons and beautiful daughters had all been killed by a freak wind storm.

Job tore his clothes. All the while his lips moved. Words of prayer floated upward.

Mrs. Job fell across her husband’s feet. Shoulders heaving, she could hardly breathe. Maybe she didn’t want to breathe.

Her babies. Gone. All of them. Dead.

Perhaps Job held her while she sobbed. The Bible doesn’t say.

And it doesn’t say this is what broke her. After all, she still had her faithful husband to love and comfort her. He shared her deepest grief.

Grief is Meant to be Shared

Mrs. Job was coping with these compounded losses. Somehow.

A few days, weeks or months later, illness struck. It crippled her pious husband. Struck him from his head to his toe.

His pain riddled her own. How could this be happening to him? He prayed all the time, made sacrifices to the Lord and praised God in the midst of all the pain and loss.

Now he could hardly move. Nothing she tried eased his agony. The smell assaulted every corner of the house. Any move caused him to groan. She didn’t think he even realized the moaning came from him.

It was too much. Why would God do this to them? She didn’t understand. From the hollow that used to contain her heart, anger swelled.

“Dost thou still retain thine integrity?” (Job 2:9) He didn’t even look like the stalwart man she’d married so many years ago. “Curse God, and die.”

Death would be sweet relief from the sorrow of life.

How did Job respond? He called her words foolish.

Notice he didn’t tell her not to be hurt. I don’t even imagine him speaking in anger. He looked into her eyes and saw the emptiness of his own heart reflected there.

He understood. He saw she wasn’t able to see beyond the horror of life into the perfection of eternity.

Her faith wasn’t as strong as his. He tried to explain what gave him hope in the midst of the anguish and grief.

My experience with marriage (and grief) is that God never gives both husband and wife more than they can bear at the same moment. Although Job suffered through these losses with his wife, his faith remained strong. For the moment.

She needed him to share that strength with her. That’s what everyone who grieves needs – even when they think they’d rather be left alone to die.

God’s View of Mrs. Job

Nothing in the book of Job condemns Mrs. Job. God never says to Job, “Since your wife mouthed off, I’m going to kill her.”

In fact, all the blessings showered on Job in chapter 42 were showered on Mrs. Job, too. She didn’t get a rebuke from God. No, she got a gentle reminder from her husband.

“How can we accept good from God without expecting bad, too?” (Job 2:9) He understood that bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.

God is trustworthy no matter what the situation.

It’s hard for us to swallow. We think that if we’ve been good, only good things should come our way. And if we’re bad, well, we’re not as bad as so-and-so. And we are sorry for messing up.

I declare that Mrs. Job was a godly woman who stumbled during the hardest test of her life. She had a faithful man beside her, and he kept her from falling away from God.

“Two are better than one…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Friend, if you’re grieving today, reach out to someone. Let them carry you during this time of weakness.

That’s the lesson Job’s wife wants to teach you today.

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