In the Bible, the story of Job is incredibly strange. The introduction to the book describes how God and Satan (the Adversary or the Accuser) place a bet on whether Job will forsake God or not. The Accuser is given freedom to destroy Job’s family, livelihood, and even desecrate his body with sores and disease. Yet, through all of this, Job refuses to curse God. The introduction to this book concludes with a heart-wrenching scene where three of Job’s friends silently sit in the ashes with this broken man for seven days and seven nights. Silence in the face of despair.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I put myself in Job’s position. I had been afflicted with this malady for no apparent reason. My world was falling apart around me. All I wanted was for my friends to sit with me, in silence, and let me mourn the death of my old self.
Just two days ago my sister was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Again, an inexplicable disease has struck my family and has brought us again to the precipice of human frailty and death. Today, I put myself in the shoes of Job’s friends – silent, mournful, sitting in the ashes of a life that was.
All of the words I learned in seminary melt like wax in the face of tragedy and despair. I cannot stand in a pulpit and make it right; I cannot pray a certain formula to make the Crohn’s go away. All I can do is sit in the ashes, and look death in the face.