Job and the new year

800px-Job_and_his_friendsphoto credit: “Job And His Friends” by Ilya Repin, 1869

This morning I read from the book of Job in the Bible. Job was a guy who lived roughly 1,500 years before Jesus was born, a man who was greatly respected. There is a 42-chapter book devoted to Job in the Bible, and the account of his life is also written in the Quran.

Job was a man who had everything going for him. Some of his assets were: two thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred pairs of oxen, and five hundred donkeys. A huge staff of servants was needed to take care of all of them. He and his wife had many sons and daughters. The family was well-respected, and life was extremely good for them.

But then everything started unraveling. Foreign raiders swooped in and kidnapped part of his household. A firestorm came and burned many of his animals. Another raiding party stole his camels. Many of his servants were killed. Then a violent wind struck the house where his kids were having a party, and all of them died when it collapsed. Then Job broke out in some sort of boils or skin disease that left him itchy and miserable. His friends came over and initially seemed sympathetic, but then asked Job what he did wrong to bring these disasters upon himself.

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President Carter And His Grandson

Jimmy Carter

Yesterday I read in the news that the former president’s grandson, Jeremy, passed away unexpectedly in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Jeremy lay down after supper Saturday night, saying he wasn’t feeling well, and went to sleep. His family went to check on him later, and found him unresponsive. His heart had stopped and they rushed him to the hospital. He was revived briefly, but then his heart stopped again and could not be restarted. At only 28 years old, Jeremy’s life on earth was over.

Two things stood out to me. The first was how fragile life is. When I was in my 20’s, the thought of dying abruptly as I took a nap never occurred to me. Maybe death by car accident, as that could happen to a person of any age. But I, like everyone else my age, assumed that I would have a family, enjoy a career, pass through middle age, and move on to gray hair, arthritis, and grandchildren. But assuming something does not make it so.

The other thing that stood out to me was the way President Carter handled it. He felt the pain, but in his time of grief he went to the place where he felt loved and comforted – his church. The president has walked with his Lord all his life, and it was just the natural place for him to be. He found comfort in being with his friends, and in teaching his Sunday School class, as was his usual custom. Over the course of his lifetime, President Carter has shown himself to be a person whose heart follows God, no matter how wonderful or how terrible the circumstances. The way I see it, that is his lasting legacy. Thank you, Mr. President, for living a life that shows what you believe in your heart.

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