I have been reading Mike Mason's book The Gospel According to Job. It has already proved to be a real inspiration - a great read. It is helpful to me that it comes in bite-sized chunks of just a couple of pages per chapter, which is just about all I can manage in one go at the moment. It quickly becomes clear in the reading that Mike has suffered, and he has a heart for those who suffer also.
Job speaks to me. As a Bible book it is remarkable for what it does not say. No mention of Israel, of temples or tabernacles, Law or prophet. That's what makes some scholars think it might be the oldest book in the Bible - pre Abraham even. Yet I find it bang up to date with what I am going through right now.
One early lesson from Job chapter 1 is the picture of the man with all the weight of his appalling suffering bearing down on him, on his face in worship before God. 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away' he said 'may the name of the Lord be praised'. The author of the book then makes the incredible statement 'In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing'.
A preacher visited an island church recently and challenged the congregation to 'step up to a higher level of faith and claim your healing'. Some who have survived appalling circumstances, like Job, without accusing God of wrongdoing were in that meeting and struggled to step up to the new mark being set for them by the earnest young (healthy) preacher. None of them were healed that day, but then none of them needed to step up any further than where they already stood.
It may take faith to receive a miracle or to heal the sick, but it takes an even higher level of faith to look God in the eye after losing your children, your wealth, your reputation and your health and say through cracked lips and choking cry 'May the name of the Lord be praised'.
Thanks Job, and thanks Mike Mason for reminding me of that.