March 1, 2021
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship.
As we follow the story of Job, much has happened already in the first chapter. There’s been an in-depth description of Job’s life and habits. We’ve observed a conversation between God and Satan. And in the few verses preceding verse 20, we see the absolute destruction of every scrap of comfort, wealth, and family Job had. His family is gone. His flocks and servants, slain or stolen. Verse 20 describes Job’s response.
The problem with bad news is that we rarely have time to prepare for it. Devastation doesn’t wait for a convenient time to arrive. Health crises don’t take a rain check. Broken trust is often a surprise.
When was the last time you received really bad news? How did you respond?
Job responds in two ways we should strive to emulate. We will talk about his second response on Wednesday, but the first is a profound and extended demonstration of his grief. How do I know it was extended? Well, I have the regular privilege of shaving my own head. And let me tell you, even my rapidly receding hairline takes a while to shave. Especially if it’s grown out for any length of time. So Job didn’t transition from hearing bad news to throwing himself on the ground in worship. We see him manifesting his grief in a ritual. He gives himself space and time for sorrow, and time to absorb the news. How about you? Do you give yourself time to grieve? Maybe you’ve been told to keep a stiff upper lip, quit crying, or come up with a solution. None of those should be your first response to bad news. Job shows us that a pause, a breath, a beat or two is not only okay, but necessary.
If you are struggling with loss or sadness, give yourself space and time to process. While it’s true that many of us have to continue with certain responsibilities like jobs, classes, or families even in the midst of grief, we should still create space to grieve. Maybe that looks like a regular time of reflection each day. Maybe it’s a weekly appointment with a close confidant, spiritual director, or therapist. Regardless, if we don’t give ourselves space to be sad, we don’t avoid it, we merely extend and delay the season of sadness.
Have enough self-compassion to give yourself time. And if your responsibilities encroach on that time, learn to ask for help.