October 23, 2017

What about Job’s Kids?

hard lifeI had an interesting picture in my facebook feed the other day.  I don’t usually repost much, but this one really caught my attention as it represented how I was feeling that day.

On particularly rough days, when I’m sure that I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that’s pretty good.

Nice thought, right?

It reminded me of what I had read just the previous day from James 5:11:

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

So what happened to Job?  The Sunday School version has God taking everything away, but blessing Job with even more than he had at the beginning.  This version tends to gloss over the 40 chapters of suffering that occurs between the taking away and the restoring.

Ever since I reposted the facebook meme I have had second thoughts.

Why is it so bad to say “life sucks”, full stop.   Job “loathes” his life and wishes he had never been born.  He continues this theme for most of 40 chapters.  In other scripture, David cries “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”  Why are we so afraid of lament?  Why do feel the need to put on masks when we go to church?

And what about Job’s kids?  The book of Job portrays them as partiers.  After every birthday party Job presents a sacrifice, just in case his children got carried away.  We get the sense that the book portrays them as less than ideal so that it can be shown that what he ended up with was better than what he started with.  Even so, his kids couldn’t say that their “track record for getting through bad days was 100%.”

That is the second problem that I have with the facebook post.  Some people don’t make it.  People die, commit suicide, are incapacitated by injury and disease, or are completely overwhelmed by circumstances.  Maybe I am overthinking this, but a post that says it’s “pretty good” that I made it through the day could come across as pretty insensitive to those who are going through significant struggle or loss.

I have a friend who lost his job, was then divorced by his wife, and his kids no longer want to talk to him.  Should I go and give him a friendly slap on the back and say, “Isn’t it good that you are making through the day?”  Or what about the cashier from the variety store behind my house who was shot in a robbery and left as a quadriplegic?  How would my post make him feel? Or those who a physically or sexuality abused on a daily basis?

Sometimes life is tougher than we can manage.  When I see others in that place I need to learn to sit and listen, and not be so quick with the clichés.  I also have to be willing to take off my own mask and admit to others when I am having a miserable day, or week, or month, or year.  For some “life is tough, and then you die.”  I find it really hard to call that “good.”

What do you think?  Am I overreacting here?  Or is there a need for us to be more considerate of those who are having difficult times?  Do we need to recognize and practice lament in our own lives?

Comments

  1. I drank coffee to get through a work project and now I’m wide awake when I should be sleeping…so I’ll comment. I like the thoughts presented here – I agree, the church should be more comfortable with lament. One thing I would like to see along with lament would be the idea of giving dignity to those suffering. When I’ve gone through harder times in my own life, I tend to want to avoid totally honest with others for fear that they’ll think I’m a failure because I’m going through suffering, when in reality while some suffering can be the result of bad choices much more of it is simply the reality of life in a fallen planet. Our culture at large and also the church tend to always lift up examples of successful individuals as those who are heroes to be emulated and imitated. I think someone who has suffered in greater ways than your average person, but still comes out loving and trusting in God is truly someone we could learn from.

  2. Christiane says:

    ‘I need to learn to sit and listen’
    AMEN

    My question is ‘why is this so very hard for us’ ?

  3. I have chronic migraines and people in my church are finally getting the hang of the fact that I don’t “smile and wave” any more. I have rotten weeks and sometimes I’m just OK. And if I’m not OK, I’m not at church and my husband says so. But, to a certain extent, being able to say that I got through the day is part of my coping mechanism. My counselor and I use this fact to remind me that life may be awful, but we get through it a little bit at a time. I don’t ask God for grace to get me through next year, but through the next 12 hours, or next 12 minutes. For someone in chronic pain, this is a blessing. I have friends with similar illnesses, and we remind each other that we got through another day with God’s grace. I guess I wouldn’t say something like this facebook post to someone I don’t know, but reminding friends that we’ve gotten this far is a blessing. Yeah, life sucks, but God is good. John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble; but, take heart, I have overcome the world!”

    Disclaimer: I have written this at the end of a three day migraine. If it turns out not to make sense, please remember that life sucks, but God is good, but migraines still make my brain foggy.

  4. I could talk about suffering and the church for ages, but I’ll try to limit it to just these two relatively short posts. The evangelical church does a rotten job of lament and suffering. When I quit working because of my migraines, people were floored. My favorite comment was “You’d think they’d be able to figure them out, with you being a doctor and all.” My husband kept threatening to answer that they keep all the good treatments for the doctors! Yes, I did have to leave the practice of medicine because of illness. No, medicine could not help me. Yes, It really sucks.

    For a long time, I did the “smile and wave, boys; smile and wave” thing. I would just put on a happy face on the days I felt well enough to be out. Over the last few years, though, my husband and I have decided that it’s just not worth it. We tell people what life is like. If they’re willing to listen, we tell them about life with chronic illness. If not, they just look confused and move on. Lots of people want to tell us about some treatment that they’ve heard about – I’ve probably tried some variation on it. Others express sympathy rather awkwardly. People just don’t know what to do with someone who’s life has taken such a wrong turn from the Evangelical “God is good” road. They expect that illness is short-lived and you get better and go back to work and Praise God. The idea that we’re still doing the migraine thing six years later is just not in the plan.

    Having people to sit and listen would truly be a blessing. It hasn’t really happened for us. Most people just don’t know how to react to our lives. I see a counselor a couple of times a month which is incredibly important – it keeps me from needing even more antidepressants than I take now. It’s really work to have friends because I’m kind of a hermit these days (although I’m actively working at the friends thing). There are other people with similar illness that I relate to which is nice because I don’t have to explain the extreme fatigue I feel even when my pain level isn’t real high, etc.

    To answer the questions you answered at the end of the post, I think the church would do well to learn to lament and to sit and listen to those who are hurting. The sentiments expressed in the original FB post would probably be unwelcome if given to someone quickly or without much thought. I find that it really resonates with me that I made it through another day, but I can see how someone might take offense if it came from someone who doesn’t really understand their background. As long as I’ve been an adult, Evangelicalism has been as much a self-help movement as anything else. I’m learning (through illness) that the Christian life means walking with Jesus. Evangelicalism could do with a little help in that department.

    Disclaimer again: See previous comment. 3 day migraine, foggy brain. I hope I made sense.

    • Final Anonymous says:

      +1. Catherine, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. I relate to much of it and agree with the problems with church; it seems there’s just not really a place in the seeker, evangelical church model for people who are in a suffering phase of life, unless they can maintain the happy clappy look. To maintain my faith in people, I tell myself they would do more if they knew how or what. Catholicism does a much better job with this, evidently.

      Also want to say I admire the fact that you are honest with how you feel and people can love it or lump it (I paraphrase). Glad this migraine is coming to an end.

  5. Ali Griffiths says:

    I do agree that we do need to be more sensitive and I am a little tired of reading about the wonderful lives people seem to lead on FB when my own isn’t great but it would be seriously sad of me not to be happy that they are enjoying life – to begrudge someone else celebrating is also wrong especially when I know some of them have gone through very hard times in the past.
    That particular FB comment didn’t strike me as upbeat at all – it’s just an expression of how the writer reminds him/herself to endure – a sort of ‘hang on in there’ attitude with a touch of humour.
    What does bother me is when Christians expect people to be cheerful and sociable when they just can’t. I had to explain to a couple in church recently that it was unreasonable to expect someone who was widowed and moved to a new area all in 6 months to be sociable, chatty and witnessing to all the residents in her home about Jesus!! In just the past 2 weeks I’ve had 3 people apologise to me that they can’t stay for fellowship time after church because they can’t cope with crowds of folk (there are only about 15 of us!) but they feel bad about it. I seem to have spent a lot of time telling people to either stop going on an unnecessary guilt trip or making someone else go on one. Why do we do this to each other? It’s not loving or kind at all. It’s really got to stop.

    • You said,
      What does bother me is when Christians expect people to be cheerful and sociable when they just can’t

      I had a Christian friend who got upset when I informed him that his condolence e-mail to me after my mother died was self centered and too cheery – it was inappropriate in tone. And I told him I found that offensive.

      After I informed the goober that my mother had passed on, he sends me this long-ish e mail where, after a curt “I’m sorry your mom died, but enough about your mom and you, let’s talk about me” comment, he spent the rest of the condolence message to me going on and on about his great life, his boss gave him a raise, he had a new pet poodle, he won the lottery, on an on. I sat there in disbelief.

      When I finally wrote him years later to tell him that was rude and insensitive, he essentially told me to lighten up, I should be able to joke after a death. This was coming from an idiot whose not yet lost anyone close to him. Both his parents are still alive and he is married with a kid (I am single and alone).

      He told me he was able to joke and laugh on the day of his 87 year old aunt’s funeral (this was not a woman he knew well), so he assumed from that experience that I should be able to “Yuk things up” in the days and years after my mother’s passing (my mom was my best friend and all I really had). I wrote him back one last time and ripped his head off for that and have not written him since.

  6. Yes, Job’s kids. Good point. Didn’t work out so well for them. That leads to the Big questions. Why suffering? Why a creation at all that requires a cross at its heart? Is there a dark side to God’s nature? Did he create this or did suffering enter because things got out of His control? Did He allow us and Satan to twist the whole thing or was this the brutal plan from the beginning? No matter the answers, the ‘Job’s kids’ still drink the bitterest dregs and find no redeeming value. Life snuffs them out or, at best, brutalizes them. Compassion is the only response that can bring meaning, if any can be found at all for them. What a world. The whole mess sticks in my craw and I don’t hide that fact. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Where else can we turn?

    • Is there a dark side to God’s nature?

      Isaiah 45:7 (especially in the King James). You bet there is. Sometimes I find comfort in thinking it isn’t after me.

  7. I think, deep down, we all *want* the theology of Job’s friends to be true – if we just keep our noses clean, follow the rules, and give God his weekly due, we’ll lead happy and blessed lives as a result. A lot of personal interactions at church seem tailored to prop up this facade (“How are you doing today?” “Great, praise God!”) When obvious proof that this formula does not work gets shoved in our faces, a lot of us can’t cope. All we can do is fall back on the formulas – “trust God, search your life, let go of lesser things” – and try to change the subject as quickly as possible.

    For whatever reason, I have found playing this game to be rather difficult – and I have the track record of being something of an outsider to prove it. Which has its own problems and besetting sins, of course…

  8. Travis Sibley, aka BigLove says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for sharing. I have long said that the cliche, “God never gives us more than we can handle,” is utter BS! I have seen nice folks who love God just plain crack. Divorce, suicide, drug abuse. Any of us can fall off that cliff under enough pressure. Don’t know why God allows it to happen but he does.

    Travis

    • I’m kinda with ya, Travis. That statement is one of those trite Christian sayings that are said by someone OUTSIDE a situation to someone INSIDE the situation intended to provide comfort, but often extremely unhelpful. Seems to me that a lot that comes people’s way is beyond handling.

      • I agree, Travis and Rick that “God never gives us more than we can handle,” is utter BS! The papers are full of stories of people who could no longer handle things.

      • Psalm 51:8. God crushes our bones. Woe to the man who says he can handle that!

    • I’ve always thought of that cliché as coffee mug theology. People offer it as a gift to a suffering friend because they don’t know what else to say. Better to just admit you have no words, then sit and cry with your friend.

  9. Yes, we need to be more compassionate. We’re commanded in Scripture to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

    And we need to look to the Psalms to get a realistic view that we’re broken people in the midst of a broken world. It’s not “happy all the time,” sometimes life is rough.

    When is the last time you’ve heard a psalm of lament as in Psalm 102?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcZQlmvtZ7E

    With sighs and groans
    My frame resounds,
    I’m like a desert pelican
    Or like an owl in ruined waste
    I lie awake, as on the roof
    A sparrow stands alone, aloof.

    Even Jesus wept. No game playing or mask wearing here.

  10. I wish we were better at this – sharing our struggles.

    Every year at the beginning of Lent, on Cheesefare Sunday, we have what is called Forgiveness Vespers. You go in a circle and ask forgiveness of everybody in the Church. It is probably the most consciously avoided service in the Orthodox calendar. People don’t like it. “It’s just an old tradition,” people say. “Why should I ask Toula or Panayota to forgive me? I haven’t offended them and they haven’t offended me. It’s tiresome.” But your kid tried to sell my kid weed after Liturgy two Sundays ago, and we haven’t dealt with that. I know your mother has terminal cancer and you must be wondering how you’re going to cope with the loss, much less pay the bills. Anya is pregnant, again, and she hasn’t seen her family in Moldava for years. Her husband, who isn’t Orthodox, works two jobs and she almost never sees him.

    Then there’s that pestilent Mule, that convert @$$hole. I have to come here. I’m Greek [Russian, Rumanian, Palestinian, etc]. What is he doing here? And why is he asking about my family? He’s going to pray? Father can pray. That’s his job. I’ll bet he doesn’t even pray for his own family.

    I imagine two hundred years ago, back in rural Russia or Rumania or Georgia, where everybody lived in face-to-face villages like Wendell Berry’s Port William, Forgiveness Vespers would have some bite, but most likely I’m romanticizing again.

  11. Kenneth B says:
  12. Thanks for this.

    My mom just moved down on Monday to live with us permanently. My dad had hidden how severe her Alzheimer’s is. He died January 1st, so now we are discovering the full extent of her lack of medical care and her mental limitations.

    We’ve had one friend come to help us integrate mom’s furniture with ours and be present with me two days this week. She was just here – smiling, being watchful, listening, just being.

    Other friends have wisked in with food (grateful for it) and then the advice starts. I’m barely holding myself muchness my family together through this transition. I know it will get manageable with the advent of a routine and rhythm. But really – shut up. I can not tell my friend how much it means to my family just to have someone present to understand and not “should” us.

  13. I went through 3 yrs of such severe losses and problems I ended up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People I thought were friends treated me like I had leprosy or told me I was being negative. Yeah I “got through” it but the only reason I didn’t commit suicide was because of my dogs and cats who depended on me. I am changed, I am scarred and I am much less than who I was before. Not only was my psyche permanently damaged my spirituality was destroyed. So yes, we need to listen, care, respond, help, uplift and admit that life can be horrible and without restoration.

    • I don’t know what you went through, but I am so sorry you had to go through it. When I read your post it struck me because I could have written it almost word for word (substitute “wife and kids” for “dogs and cats”). The comment about being less than you were before is something that I too mourn in my life. I went from being the strong person I wanted to be to being a person broken psychologically and physically. I am amazed at how much the mind can affect the body. There are days when my body is strong then other days when it trembles in anxiety and weakness. But I think that there is restoration happening. I’ve been seeing it slowly over the past 4-5 years in different forms.

  14. Can we please get over the idea that a person’s Facebook posts represent the whole truth about their circumstances? I edit what I post. I don’t want to go into great details about bad stuff going on, for more than one reason. I will post a happy or optimistic statement sometimes because that is the only happy or optimistic thought I’ve had in a morning of bad news. It helps me remember that life’s joys and sorrows can be present simultaneously.

    Because I edit, I hope that when I DO post negative or unhappy posts, people will look at them as a departure from the norm and take them seriously (because I do). I read the posts of people I know in real life and know that they also are trying to find meaning and hope when their life is rocky.

    I agree with this post that lament is neglected. We should mourn that this world is so misshapen and distorted by the effects of sin. Only when we recognize how bad we are can we rejoice about how great our Savior is.

  15. I so very COMPLETELY agree that on a church Sunday morning I feel it is so very expected to be happy and joyful… but I *know* of many within our church that are in anything but that state at least in some major areas of their life. Now does that mean I’m expecting they will always be sad? I don’t know … some of just those same people are the ones that remind me how God is always good even through such hardships. But what does irk me probably too much is preaching that usually ends on the note that if X then happiness/joy/etc. when just like the book of Job rather well illustrates that might be the case, but over an extended period of time that may involve a lot more hardship/pain/suffering than you were ever thinking.

    At one point I even mentioned to our worship pastor some specific songs(like Michael Card and his “Job Suite”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7XVS1VIzHc&feature=kp) but he said generally speaking the church wants praise worship songs (which obviously a song about lamenting could be considered otherwise).

    Yeah, this does bug me as a collective church body, but my only thoughtful response is that those gifted to care and comfort others be able and willing to NOT just ask nonchalantly how’s your day going? to someone they darn well know hasn’t been doing well. In my view, a lot of times they just want someone to be there and listen.

    • on a church Sunday morning I feel it is so very expected to be happy and joyful

      Not if your church sings dreary funeral dirges in minor key! 😛 A little Gregorian chant doesn’t hurt the joyless ambiance either.

      A “worship pastor” primarily concerned with what people want is neither.

      • You would not believe how our Lutheran choir grumbles against practicing the mournful Latin of “Miserere Nobis” that my wife has appointed to be sung during Lent. According to Garrison Keillor, Lutherans are a dour lot who revel in misery, but I’m not finding it so. My Lutherans don’t like what they call the “depressing” anthems, and I know a couple who avoid coming to church on Good Friday because it’s just too “depressing” !!!

  16. I like the verse from James a couple after the one cited. James 5:13…

    “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.”

    The blended body of believers will have some who seem to be reaping great blessings alongside some who are going through the wringer. Seems to me a HEALTHY body would be one in which those who are “strong” (doing well) help those who are “weak” (going through junk). Sadly, I think some of us (I’ll even admit I’ve had this tendency) are afraid of coming alongside those who are really struggling in case it might “rub off” or maybe even afraid that we don’t know where it will lead. It’s easier to stay safely in the boat than take that step onto the stormy waters.

    Great post. Great comments. Causing me some reflection, hopefully leading to some change.

  17. I’ve been meaning to pick up this book again: A Sacred Sorrow; reaching out to God in the lost language of lament, by Michael Card. Thanks for reminding me.

    I realise I need a way to understand my sadness, and to express it. Primarily to God, but we need to be generous and humble enough with one another to quieten ourselves and listen to one another. We are not good at this as evangelicals. Part of it, I think, is that we are raised to find answers in Scripture (and thanks be to God for posts here on the dangers of that), and so we want to find answers for the sufferer from there, or anywhere. We want to see God at work in ways we can measure. We want a victorious testimony because it glorifies God (but actually it makes us feel better about a whole lot of stuff). If we stop and listen we might hear something that makes us uncomfortable, that raises difficult questions, that shows us we don’t have the answer. Seems to me that some other traditions are able to hold the complexity of life and the mystery of God with more wisdom and maturity.

    • >”Part of it, I think, is that we are raised to find answers in Scripture…”

      Yes.

      My sister-in-law passed away a few weeks ago after a bout with cancer. During some of the worst of it, when she still held out hope for earthly healing, she’d go to the Bible to read God’s promises, to find peace, comfort and answers, only to end up finding none of those things and breakdown in tears.

      Do you know when peace and comfort came? When she realized that those scriptures we Christians point to as promises might not be literal, or personal, or maybe only intended to be thought of in an eternal sense. Peace and comfort came when she closed the Bible and accepted that a miracle wasn’t coming, earthly healing wasn’t coming, despite what people kept pointing to in the Bible.

      Her last week on earth was quite different from the month or so prior to it. Peace and comfort for her. Peace and comfort even for those of us she left behind. Bittersweet is the death of a believer.

  18. Of course we need to sit still and listen, not try to fix the pain or chime in with our own stories. I was shocked and embarrassed when I realized that, a month or so ago on one of my message boards, someone had written about a heartbreaking family problem, and instead of saying “I’m so sorry,” I immediately provided a long history of my own struggle with such a problem! And I didn’t even realize I was doing it at the time!

    Why do we do this? In my case, because I’m a “fixer,” and I thought if I told how I’d handled my problem, she could use the information to handle her problem. And of course, I got to talk about myself — always a joy. (for ME!) It’s hard to bit my tongue and realize that I’m not the center of the universe, and that the world is full of things I can’t fix.

    Job’s friends were doing fine at first: “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

    Then Job started talking, and they felt the need to argue.

  19. Mike –

    I don’t think that giving ourselves a kick in the butt to get out of a funk necessarily equates to putting on a happy mask and pretending. Sure there is something to be said for acknowledging how we feel but, personally, if I stay and wallow in it there is a real danger I may slip into self-harm. It is vital (at least for me) to focus on what I have that I am thankful for, to look for the silver lining, to sing praises to God even when I don’t feel like it, etc. Those things aren’t hypocrisy or masking true feelings, they are tools for survival. Personally I like what you reposted on facebook. If I saw your post it would be an encouragement to me because it would remind me that I made it this far and I can keep going.

    As far as Job’s kids, well in the end we ALL do have to die of something.

    • As far as Job’s kids, well in the end we ALL do have to die of something.

      Do you not hear how cold that is? Job’s friends didn’t even say THAT to him. I mean, its true, but that’s irrelevant.

      I’m certainly no expert on turning around a gloomy disposition, but reading the back story on the hymn “No Thank We All Our God,” I know there is something to be said for the value of thankfulness amidst the ash heap of a ruined life. But personally, I just don’t have the strength. I don’t hold out any hope that my personal resolve can direct my focus to always look on the bright side of life. Instead, I draw comfort from the hope of resurrection, that our promised deliverance is not necessarily on this side of the grave, as Job did in ch. 19:25. God is going to kill you. But he is also going to raise you up again.

      • *”NOW Thank We All Our God.” Yikes!

      • Sorry if that sounds cold but it is, in fact, a fact. And to accept it actually brings me comfort when I look at the sorts of things in life that have no rational answer. Of course, the Preacher said it better in Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

        I saw the tears of the oppressed—
        and they have no comforter;
        power was on the side of their oppressors—
        and they have no comforter.
        And I declared that the dead,
        who had already died,
        are happier than the living,
        who are still alive.
        But better than both
        is the one who has never been born,
        who has not seen the evil
        that is done under the sun.

        Job HIMSELF echoed this in Job 3:3 and Job 3:11

        “Let the day perish on which I was to be born” and “Why did I not die at birth?”

        The real hope being, as you mentioned, that there is a better live awaiting us.

  20. I have chronic pain. While my back pain is being managed OK right now, I’ve gone through some rough times. Times when you cry and pray for relief, or even death, and have thoughts that no sane person should have. When the pain is all-consuming and never ending. One day, when my pain was sever but not quite that bad, I came across a post on facebook. Admittedly, the poster was having a rough patch, but she said something along the lines of “The pain makes me remember that I’m alive.” And that came across as really insensitive, and as someone who has never experienced true physical pain.

  21. Christiane says:

    ‘a time to weep’ . . .

    the Jewish people grieve by ‘sitting shiva’ . . . setting aside time and place to give voice to their grief,
    sometimes they remove their shoes, as a sign of humility, that they are humbled by their loss . . .
    I suppose they must also hear the voice of Jeremiah saying: “stop wearing out your shoes” (Jer. 2:25) . . . that mourning is a time to stop normal activity and be still physically

    perhaps the frantic and chaotic nature of much of life is an effort to run away from thoughts and feelings that come in the stillness and the quiet?

    maybe it’s better to give the sad times their moment more fully . . . to ‘celebrate’ the moment solemnly, fully present to the pain for a time, rather than live furiously at chaotic pace in an effort to outdistance our pain ???

    some thoughts

  22. “I had not thought death had undone so many…” Dante

    There are many days that I actually haven’t made it through; rather, those days, and weeks, and months, and years, made their way through me, leaving only enough for the wind of circumstances to lift up my detritus and fill it with my shape again for another go round.

    And at the same time, like the messenger to Job, and like Ishmael after the wreck of the Pequod, I alone survived. What is this life that suffers and dies and lives and dies again?

    “Blessed is the name of Lord,” you say; yet there are many times, many times, when I cannot bring myself to utter it, or think it. I keep thinking that there must be answers, but how would they satisfy? So much sound in the wind….

    It’s a mystery that can neither be explained, or lived, but died….

  23. Yep, I related to this. I don’t want to get into all my details because I’ve shared them on older posts/threads, but…

    I’ve gone to Christians in times of need and struggle but instead of getting the love, empathy and encouragement I badly needed, they would usually give me cliches, judgment, or criticism.

    I’ve had such responses in my years of struggling with…
    – clinical depression,
    – my grief – (the pain that went on for years after my mother died) and with
    – wondering why I’m still single in my 40s, being upset about that at times (I’ve never married despite wanting to be).

    Christians either scolded me, lectured me, gave me platitudes when I brought this stuff up with them, or some tried to avoid me and get me off the phone as fast as they could.

    Some Christians are very uncomfortable confronting the suffering of another person head on or they are too lazy to be bothered. They want you off the phone so they can resume watching their football game or chatting about whatever with their other friends.

    Oh, and you get this on the internet, too.

    When I sat there and thought, “Well, all my “real life” friends and family are awful at providing answers and comfort, maybe I can find it on Christian sites and forums online,” and tried the internet, I found myself just as disappointed (usually).

    I have found a small number of compassionate, understanding Christians in regards to my various issues on the internet, but there are a heck of a lot of judgmental, critical ones on the internet, too, and ones who like to give you flippant, cheery little platitudes.

  24. Steve Jobs had kids?

  25. I saw you post that meme and I remember resisting the urge to post a snarky comment (though I don’t remember for sure if I succeeded). It did seem a bit out of character for you. I enjoyed your musing on it, and the title TOTALLY snagged me, ’cause I have often kind of wondered about that exact question.

    Honestly, these days, optimism pisses me off. Most of the world does not have a happy ending. Suffering is so pervasive I almost feel guilty if I’m not. …but then if I’m having a rough time, I always hesitate to complain because a part of me is at least slightly suspicious that at least part of it is my own fault. Suffice to say, I’m quite grumpy, most of the time. Being happy is overrated.

    • Yeah, a snarky comment would not have been appreciated. I don’t want to go into details, but we are going through a particularly rough time right now.

  26. My pain and suffering have led me to some strange places – places never even thought of by normal people. I’ve had the chance to comfort those who had almost nothing and I’ve had the chance to listen to their problems. I never offer advice or give them a quick cure. I simply listen. Is God using my situation to reach others? Beats me. I don’t like it but I will endure it.
    Also – Am I the only one who dislikes Job’s friends? They get on my nerves.

  27. Christiane says:

    ” Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it.
    He came to fill it with His Presence.”

    (J. Claude)