By LaTrisa Presson
It still hurts to talk about that long ago day. The anguish comes rushing back, my eyes fill, each breath causes pain. The shock on my husband’s face when he heard about the oxen was heartbreaking. Then we heard about the sheep, camels, crops and servants. Gone. It seemed impossible. My husband was a perfect and upright man that feared the Lord. How could this be happening? However, the servant’s voice grew dim, as another servant ran into the room. “Sir, I am sorry, but your ten children … all are gone.” The room swayed, the sound of my screaming was deafening to my own ears. Our ten children were dead? I could not take it in. Ten times I had endured the pain of childbirth, only to have it forgotten as each new baby was placed into my arms. Ten lives nurtured to love, honor and respect Jehovah. Now, only ten freshly dug graves. My very existence as a mother had vanished. Each waking thought had always been about my ten treasures. What would I cook for dinner? Were their clothes washed and tidy? Would the life lessons Job and I tried to teach sink in? Now what was I to do? My purpose for living was gone. Grief was my constant friend.
Weeping, I found comfort in the arms of my husband but not for long. Job suddenly became very ill. I feared for his life. I begged Jehovah not to take him from me also. I felt as if Satan were seeking to destroy us. Our luxuries were gone. I was begging for bread in the city gates, and now Job was suffering beyond anything I had ever seen. Each night, his cries of agony mingled with my groans of grief. Day after day he experienced acute sicknesses. Again, I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do to ease the pain of my husband. Finally, in the midst of longing for my children and desiring relief for Job, I uttered the words that I would give anything to take back. Words spoken at the lowest point of my life, forever recorded in history and indelibly burned into my brain – “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9 NIV).
I wanted to rewind the moment. What had I said? I had spoken so cruelly while trying to hold onto a thin line of remaining sanity. I saw my husband’s eyes fill with more pain. He reached for me, tried to console me with his disease-ravaged hands. “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2: 10 NIV). Those around thought that he had rebuked me, but I know my husband’s love. He did not say I was foolish. He said I sounded like one of the foolish women. In other words, “Honey, you do not sound like yourself. It is the grief and suffering that is speaking for my steady. faithful wife. Let’s remember God’s promises. Let’s remember His goodness to us even during this trial.”
However, those around misunderstood me. They criticized and looked past my grief-stricken heart and called it a heart of stone. My arms were empty of my children. I could feel Satan fighting every second of every day, and now this terrible misunderstanding. I came to realize the power of the spoken word. I had added one more wound to the many already inflicting Job. I cannot say that I felt Jehovah’s presence, but I do know that I did not feel His rebuke. Surely if God was displeased with me, He would have told me. He certainly did not hesitate to rebuke Job’s friends (Job 42:7-9). Even if Job forgave me, I was unable to forgive myself. Jehovah willing, Job’s wounds would heal, but the wound from my words would never be forgotten. The scar that I would take from this trial would be the scar of being forever misunderstood.
Our sufferings lasted for almost a year. I steadfastly cared for my husband trying my best to make him comfortable. I joyfully recall the day that I saw some of the pain leave his eyes. The day he asked me to put away the potsherd pieces that he had scraped his sores with was a day of rejoicing. I slowly felt Satan’s hold on us slip away, and in its place the warmth of Jehovah’s presence filled my home again. Job and I were able to look back at the wonderful memories of our ten children and smile. However, the day that will forever be etched in my heart is the day that Job felt well enough to wrap me in his arms. Oh, how I had missed his touch, needed his touch. I no longer felt misunderstood, I felt redeemed. Our family and friends began to gather. They brought gifts of silver and gold. Our flocks began to multiply. Job was able to rebuild and Jehovah’s blessings were upon us. I shared in the experience of the doubling of our wealth. Even though I was the one that had wounded with words, I still partook of the blessings. One beautiful, glorious day, I felt the movement of a child in my womb. I knew then the heart of my home had begun to beat again. Jehovah blessed me nine other times afterwards. I, the misunderstood wound-maker, was given ten of the most beautiful children in all the land. Job and I lived long and saw four generations of offspring. Our end was greater than our beginning.
As women, we love a happy ending and the story of Job is just that! Also as women, we sometimes speak with our minds instead of our hearts. Proverbs perfectly states that the tongue is mightier than the sword. Job’s wife found this to be true, and so have each of us, time and time again. Our schedules get busy, our lives become unorganized, debt piles up and sleep evades us. So what do we do? We wound with our words. Sadly, we usually speak in haste to those around us whom we love the most. As soon as the words are spoken, we are filled with regret. With the Lord’s help, we understand we are not vicious or bitter people, and thankfully His forgiveness can heal is understandings.
Perhaps you have not been the one that has inflicted pain with your words, but you have been the wounded one. Words cut deep into our heart and our memory. They seem to resurface at the oddest times and continue to cause pain, sometimes years later. Job has taught us many lessons, but perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that Job became intimate with the one who wounded him. In his tragedy, he found triumph. Not on his own, but with the help of his misunderstood wife. Job’s story proves to us that Satan is the author of all misery and that God’s grace is more than enough to support us through any trial. But the ending might not have been a happy one if Job had not been willing to get close to the one who had wounded him.
What new chapter could be written in your life today if you were able to become close to the one that wounded you? What burden could be lifted if you cleared out the misunderstandings of life and began afresh and anew? No, Job’s wife never forgot that day when things fell apart in her life and when she spoke from her grief, but she also refused to let that moment define the rest of her life. As women, may we always pray King David’s prayer in Psalms 19: 14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, 0 Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
LaTrisa Presson attends First Apostolic Church of Maryville, TN (Pastor Kenneth Carpenter).