The Lord Gives and He Takes Away
Unexpected Prayers STUDY
Margaret swirled the glass in front of her. It was cold. Her cheeks were hot. And she couldn’t look up for fear that a tear would slide down her face. Drink it in. The heavy air. The wet eyes. The lonely glass of Chardonnay sparkling on the bar.
He used to come here with her. Those memories haunted the empty barstools that now surrounded. The laughing and talking and dreaming. Side by side with someone she thought would stay by her side. Remembering the warmth from his shoulder, the whole restaurant appeared to be a dark shade of gray now. Where it used to feel safe by his side, alone was just dark.
She needed that shoulder today. It had been an awful day. Finally getting fired from the job she really hated. All she had to do was put soup into bowls, every night from 5-9 pm. According to the perpetually angry manager of a low-scale restaurant, she couldn’t even serve broccoli soup right.
Sickly stomach, she impulsively glanced at her phone on the edge of the bar. Digital bubbles popped up unexpectedly. Her heart flooded with hope for half a second, that he was thinking about her. But the screen revealed her dad’s name instead. She didn’t even want to remember that guy who called himself her father. Every so often, he would text her. However, he never was in her life in any meaningful way. Calling her “Maggie”, when she hated that version of her name. Her phone had a way of sending her emotions soaring and crashing. She hated it. She couldn’t live without it.
Today, she had to wonder, what was the problem. What was she doing wrong? Why did her life turn out so disappointing? And what could she possibly do about it?
Everything was spinning out of control. And there was no end in sight. The laundry kept piling up and the bills would never stop. She knew that she had to pray. God was in control, wasn’t He? Even though he was allowing her to fail so terribly.
Disappointment, pain, suffering, and are all uncomfortable, and sometimes unbearable. Losing a trusted friend is only on the scale of heartache to holding your spouse or child as they breathe their last breath. It is natural to want to escape the pain, fix the problems, or ignore the moments that bring us to tears, and cover us with ashes.
Job was a friend in such a circumstance. He lost his children, his property, achievements, and wealth in one day. What was the reason? After forty chapters of discussion and contemplation, we find there was no reason. Job was innocent. Job was the receiver of a terrible circumstance. And yet he prayed faithfully to God and “did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)
After every terrible thing that happened, Job’s wife pleaded with her husband. “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9) It is over, there is nothing left, she counsels. Speak your truth, that God has forgotten you, she wants him to admit. Directed by her love for her husband, Job’s wife wants his suffering to end. But Job holds on, barely.
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