“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
—Job 19:25 (NIV)
A teenager told me she thought her parents were about to divorce. She had heard her parents’ nightly arguments and watched her mom turn away her tear-stained face when asked about the situation. The parents of many of this young woman’s friends had divorced, so she assumed her parents were next.
The teen did not give me permission to talk to her parents about her fears. Yet I felt obligated to open a pastoral door for either the husband or the wife if it would allow them to get help and healing.
When an opportunity came to enter that home, I lingered in order to hint at the well-being of the marriage. Neither spouse did more than smile and spout platitudes, but a week later the husband called and said he wanted to talk.
He furtively slipped into my office. Any excuse to leave would have been welcome, but none presented itself. After moments of expansive quiet and several invitations to say what was on his mind, he finally began to talk.
He had always thought marriage would be wonderful, he said. His parents had been solid in their commitments, and his dating relationship with his wife had been marvelous. They had seemed to be a perfect match, sharing interests, passions, and religious commitments.
But several years into their marriage, his wife was in an accident. She experienced a closed-head injury that altered her personality. She became suspicious, forgetful, impatient and abusive. What’s more, she was an emotional chameleon. In public, her negative symptoms disappeared. Even her sisters and parents had no idea of the ogre she could become. The husband’s pleas for help were questioned and pushed aside. He felt very alone.
I listened as the hurting man wept, and I thought of Job, around whom unseen and unjust powers had swirled. Job was bewildered. So was this misunderstood husband. Neither man understood why bad things were happening. Each faced a murky future in an iffy marriage.
Yet I was amazed by this husband’s testimony. When I asked him if he had considered divorce, he said, “Never! I made a vow and my wife needs to count on that, especially now. Even if she doesn’t know that she needs me.” He added, “I read about a note scratched into a basement in Paris during World War II: ‘I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining. I believe in love even when I can’t feel it. I believe in God even when he is silent.’”
I was reminded of Job when he professed, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” Though Job was unable to see how he was confident that neither loss nor pain nor death itself could stymie God’s care for him.
If we are believers, there is no lament we can sing that does not have an Easter refrain. Trials and torments and troubles are part of our lives here, but they are not the whole story. Christ rose from the dead, and because he lives, we too shall live.
- When have we felt plagued like Job? How has trouble affected our relationship?
- When life was good, Job offered daily sacrifices for himself and his family (see Job 1:5). What habits are we developing in good times that will help us through the tough times?
- Whom do we look to as models of endurance and hope? What have these people taught us? How might they serve as mentors?