There was an aura of desolation about him as he stood erect and motionless at the graveside of his children, just staring ahead as if attempting to deny what had happened.
He had been the most esteemed and respected man in the country but now he was completely broken. He didn’t sob but tears streamed from his haunted eyes, forming tiny rivulets down his cheeks.
When he had received the bad news of the death of all his children, the loss of them overwhelmed him and caused him to shave his head and rent his clothes. Later he had staggered to the burial just as he was, completely overcome by grief.
Hundreds had come to the funeral from the surrounding area - the deceased children’s father was the most famous and revered man in the East.
There were mixed feelings among the funeral throng. Those who had been jealous of his riches and standing in society were glad that misfortune had come to him. Others were in fear of the loss of their employment, as hundreds worked for him but now their jobs would disappear, just as Job’s riches had.
Whilst he was downcast, his physical health suffered from a bout of boils. In his despair he went and sat at the ash heap and covered himself with its filth - that is how he felt - filthy in every way. His disgruntled wife had suggested, “Why don’t you end it? After all we’ve lost everything. Why don’t you curse your God for all of this and let him kill you off? That’s what he seems to want - your utter destruction!”
The fear and respect of him soon dissipated like steam into warm air. Youngsters, of base and uncouth families, who had previously held their tongue for fear of Job’s men now openly derided him, shouting at him, “You’re a dirty baldhead - you’re no better than us now and you stink!” Indeed, the pus leaking from the open sores, that covered his body from head to toe, did permeate a foul stench.
His sufferings didn’t end there but were acerbated by three so-called wise friends and a young man being mentored by them. They left him feeling much worse by their pompous words.
But I am the prophet of the Lord, the fifth and the true comforter:
“Job, I am sent from God to comfort you. Base men may be mocking you because of your lost status in society. But you are most revered among the heavenly realm.
‘No man has been so severely tried as you. You are the one who has proven to the enemy of the Most High that a man will serve and love his God with all his heart for nothing in return.
‘You knew the curse of breaking the law was to lose all one’s livelihood and to be covered in repulsive sores - and you had rightly feared this. You pondered why it had come upon you and were bewildered trying to find your offense. You are free from guilt in this, it was all a deception and plan of Satan.
‘Yet, you will gain wisdom and forbearance from this testing. Your patience in bearing this trial and refusing to turn from your Maker will be an everlasting fame for you.
‘No man is perfect and free from all sin but from the day that you set your mind not to look upon another woman with lust, your God took up your cause and blest you.
‘It will not be long now before the Lord restores you. Satan will be bound for the rest of your lifetime and the Lord will flout you before him continually as an eternal victory.
‘You thought a byword of your loathsome state would follow you for the rest of your life, but a byword of your patience will be for all generations to ponder.
‘There are some qualities of your life that the Lord will speak to you about, but my commission is to completely encourage your soul.
‘So wait patiently for the Lord to return to you. He is about to come to you in all his glory and he himself will comfort you. Now, I must leave you to consider these words:
‘The Lord says that he is about to restore your fortunes and to raise you even higher than before. So now, stand up like a man and live again!”
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