Yesterday we looked at this passage in the first two chapters of the book of Job, and I outlined my thoughts on Job's wife.
You see, I don't imagine her as the bitter, shrill harpie that some preachers portray her as . . . of course, she blurted out some harsh words, but think of the world she was living in.
First, her happy world of ten lovely children was wrenched from her; all ten of those precious lives were gone. Next, the comfortable world of financial security was taken from her. Then, the health of her husband was gone -- this terrible disease apparently caused horrible pain: pain that could only be eased by application of heat and the scraping of pieces of pottery across the skin. Dragging shards of broken pottery across the skin? That seems painful right there, but perhaps this allowed the sores to drain, or some other reason that Job found relief by doing this.
And there is his wife, by his side, trying to ease his discomfort as he moans and cries out. Trying to console the man she loves, while her own heart is broken.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)Let's look at Job's response, for we can see a clue here. I'm sure that even in his pain, this man noticed that his wife was working hard. He felt her kind hands upon him, cleaning the sores and applying ointment, lovingly working to ease his pain. He sees her becoming more stooped under the weight of the hardships that they are sharing.
What does he say to her?
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10a)
Can't we just imagine the scene? Job, covered in sores, raises his blistered hand to stroke her hair. They gave into each other's eyes. She is searching his eyes for hope, and for strength to go on. He is lovingly admiring her.
Yes, admiring her. You can hear it in what he says to her. He didn't say that his wife was foolish. He didn't even say that the words she blurted out were foolish. He said that she sounded like one of the foolish women.
We can see that he is telling her, "Oh, wife of mine, you just don't sound like yourself. I know that's not you talking when you say those words. It doesn't sound like the strong, loving woman of God that I know, and that I married so many years ago. This is not you talking, my dear. Let's remember God's promises, and His goodness."
We can think about his response being a softer one, because Job would have known that his wife's suffering was just as acute as his. The pain in her eyes as she lifted her face toward his own may have added to Job's great suffering, for he would have wanted to make things right for her, and ease her pain, too. He knew that the words she blurted out were an indication of the great shocks she had experienced . . . sudden losses have a way of clouding our judgment. Sometimes those who are living through a horrific tragedy may make contradictory statements about their faith, and about their life. Perhaps a psychiatrist from today, transported back to view these two suffering souls, would have said she was suffering from post traumatic stress.
Whether these suppositions are true or not, Job's words are a far cry from the condemnation that has been heaped on Job's wife in many sermons!
And, apparently, his words in reply were just what she needed to hear. They acted as a salve for her soul, just as her ministrations may have soothed his blistered skin. Because she isn't heard complaining again in the rest of the book of Job.
In fact, the Bible is silent and doesn't record a blessing or a rebuke for Job's wife. God didn't hesitate to rebuke Job's friends in the 42nd chapter. (Job 42:7-9)
But we do know how God blessed her after the trial was over (Chapter 42). She shared in the doubling of their wealth.
She gave birth to ten more children.
And it's pretty likely that she shared in many more fruitful years of her husband's life.
What should we take away from the story of Job's wife? We can see that her greatest testimony might be her presence with Job in his lowest moments. Up there in verse 11 of the chapter, we read that Job's siblings and friends returned and comforted him. Oy vey. We can see that it was easier for them to show compassion after the trial was over -- but at his lowest moments, the moments when he and his wife could have really used a network of support, they were nowhere to be found!
His wife? Caring, loving, and enduring with him, every single day. These trials didn't split them up. They stuck it out together, and at the end of the story, they conceive and raise another ten children. Was her attitude perfect through the storm? Nope.
Did she say things she would regret later. Yep.
But through it all, her faith in God was intact. Perhaps we should look at her service to God and to her husband as an example of how we can have biblical character!