I don’t think it’s a coincidence I’m reading through the book of Job during a time when we find ourselves without steady income – it lends itself to having clear perspective on what we do have.
We are healthy. Our children are adorable and well adjusted. We are wealthy in our friends.
It’s a funny thing about seasons that end – all those things you’ve been dreaming about doing but have been too tied down to explore, they suddenly seem possible.
We’re notorious for having 3am conversations after the dog or our bladder wakes us up and our minds are too wired to sleep again. These conversations ebb and flow between endless possibilities and the fear of losing our house. But so far we keep each other afloat, avoiding a mutual downward spiral.
Last night as I went to bed I felt heavy and emotionally exhausted. The weight of an unknown future was settling in on me, and I lamented over the seemingly endless cycle of grieving over the years – the death, burial, and resurrection of my will that occurs when Things Change and People Go.
Since then I’ve grieved the loss of my emotional stability, my marital harmony, an outrageous income, failed expectations, missed connections, a dog, friends, and now, the loss of community we once had through a job. I’ve seen loss restored before, and it gives me hope. But I’ve also seen loss remain lost, and while technically I survived it, I carry around the weight of something not there.
I write this at 2am. Bryan and I woke an hour ago, and we assessed where we are in the emotional cycle of ebb and flow as we tried to get back to sleep. And where I’m at is this: whenever I experience loss it reminds me how much I rely on things staying the same. Why couldn’t Lucy be more like Scout? Why did Thomas have to learn to say “ganoga bar” and “bacado” correctly? Why can’t I get Ruthie’s hair quite the same way it was when she was three?
These creature comforts reveal my loss of identity – I am a second generation immigrant with one foot in the world I came to and another in the world I’m from. Job did not have this identity crisis – at least not from what I can tell in nineteen chapters. Job understood he belonged to God, and while he may have wished for death to relieve him of his suffering, he never cursed God for his loss. In chapter 12 beginning at verse 13 he says,
True wisdom and real power belong to God;
from him we learn how to live,
and also what to live for.
If he tears something down, it’s down for good;
if he locks people up, they’re locked up for good.
If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought;
if he lets it loose, there’s a flood.
Strength and success belong to God;
both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.
So for now I take comfort in knowing this is not some sort of cosmic accident. I don’t necessarily believe God is on his throne directing events like an operatic orchestra, but I am reminded of the paradox of his star hanging awesomeness while counting the hairs on my head. He is big, and approachable. He is mighty and gentle. He is warrior and judge and redeemer and comforter.
And as I head back to bed, he fills my mind again with endless possibilities.
Ebb and flow.