Too often we hear stories of families who are facing one calamity after another: loss of job, cancer, house flooding. This can be just one family or one crisis that affects many people. With the media reporting continually about the unstable economy and potential flu epidemics, it would be easy to get caught in fear of life.
I have recently reread the book of Job from the Bible. It is so much more than just a dramatic story of woe that ends with a happy ending. My original understanding of the book was that Job suffered, lost everything and cried to God, and God answered. Years later my second deep reading and study brought me to the realization that the advice of Job’s friends wasn’t very helpful, yet it was the same kind of advice I get and give to my friends. Even so, God came through with the answers.
This time I realized that God doesn’t answer the question of how and why in this story. God responds to Job with examples of how much bigger, broader and vast God is — so that Job knows that the answers we seek are just a part of God’s answers. God wanted Job, and now us, to trust God, our Creator, enough to let the answers come according to God’s understanding, not ours.
This is what faith is all about. It is knowing that you can depend on Jesus Christ to walk with you through the tough times. It is about networking with others enough to share your burdens and disappointments, and working out solutions together. Networking means being in a relationship with others enough to find solutions together for the situations you fear.
Working with other humans isn’t fail-proof, as Job found out. If you feel as if someone has given you poor advice, or failed you, remember you are in good company. But often it is still better to keep company with trustworthy friends than with just your own thoughts of fear. The best advice is sometimes just the presence of others without words.
As a believer of Jesus Christ, I look for Christ in the friends I listen to; and then I know I am hearing the voice of God through them. But it also includes taking all of the fears and sorting out what choices you do or do not make that turn the fear to love and care for others and yourself. Living in fear will eat at your insides. It is not productive. Living out of God’s love and grace is healthier and filled with blessings.
So when bad things happen, don’t depend on your own thoughts to get you through; instead try rereading the Bible stories and ask your Creator, God, for answers. That in itself shows that you have faith. But remember that the answers don’t always come as you think they might. Share your burdens and joys with others. Being in relationship is comforting, with and without good advice.
And find a community of faith to strengthen your love, which can rule over the fears of life. There are a lot of good churches in the Hayward area, none of which are too far from wherever you are.