July 28, 2018

Lessons from Job

Recollections from the first few weeks after becoming a single Mom in 1998.....

Those first tumultuous days and weeks instilled in me a deep longing for peace and comfort. I prayed constantly and pleaded for deliverance. Even with the miracles that were manifest in my life, the sorrow was so deep that when I poured out my heart to God, I couldn’t make sense of what I was feeling. It was a struggle to feel heaven’s inspiration because my emotions were so intense. I longed for the precious early morning hours of days gone by when I would feel the gentle promptings of the Spirit. In my search for answers, I turned to the scriptures daily. 

Amid this crisis, I was serving as Gospel Doctrine teacher in our ward, teaching the Old Testament. With my emotions absolutely raw, I was grateful that my companion teacher agreed to teach on that first Sunday. The following week I was to teach the lesson on the book of Job. The thought of studying the life of Job in more depth was overwhelming at the time. In fact it shook me to the core. Throughout my life I had known the story of Job on a simple level. I knew that he went through unimaginable trials. I knew that he lost everything, including his children. I had always loved his testimony of the Savior, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

I was nervous about teaching such a sensitive topic so soon, and I prayed mightily about what to do, pouring my heart out to God and expressing my fear and trepidation about my situation. I somehow felt strongly that this lesson on Job was very important for me personally. So I decided to ask a friend to be ready to “rescue” the lesson if I started to have a difficult time with my emotions while teaching.

Reading about Job that week was revelatory, therapeutic, and very sobering. As I began visualizing all the trials that Job endured, it felt, at first, as if my own trials were insignificant in comparison. But I quickly changed my tune. The story of Job was included in the scriptures for many reasons, and one of the reasons was to give hope to the downtrodden, to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. I was included in that group. I was the downtrodden. My hands were heavy, and my knees were feeble. Truly the story of Job was for me! To this day, when I study about Job and his trials, I am lifted up out of my own.

I studied and pondered all week. I read many, many scriptures and felt Job’s strength and perseverance. As I read of his sorrows and sufferings, I knew deep in my heart that the Lord was aware of my sorrows and sufferings and that He was there with me just as He was with Job. I was overcome as I felt new meaning in Job’s testimony, “For I know that my redeemer liveth….” 

Then I turned to the scriptures in D&C 121, “My son, peace be to thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.” The words from the Lord seemed to be directed toward me…. I felt him saying, “My daughter, peace be to thy soul….” Could the Lord really be granting me peace? And yet, there it was on the page in front of me. And could He be telling me that my adversity and afflictions would be only for a small moment? “Then if thou endure it well….” Is this the answer, I thought, to pray for strength to endure?

I pondered the phrase, “Thou art not yet as Job.”  As I considered my own sorrow and suffering, I realized that I was still better off than Job. And when I read verse after verse that recounted his endurance and long-suffering through his trials, I knew that with the Lord’s help, I could do this. I believed even more that my Heavenly Father was with me, that the Savior was with me, and that through the atonement, I could endure as did Job. And I realized that the “why” wasn’t important any more, but the “how” was the question I needed to answer. 

When the Sabbath came, I did teach that lesson on Job. And it proved to be one of those extraordinary miracles for me. Yes, I did have a lot of tears during that lesson. I recounted the many trials of Job. I recounted how the Lord allowed Satan to test Job, by taking away all that he had. In my own small way, I felt Job’s pain. And I rejoiced with Job as he did not charge God foolishly. And as I bore testimony of the lessons learned from the life of Job, I was overcome, for a moment, with a peace that permeated my soul. I was grateful that I could bear testimony with Job, that I could truly say, “I know that my redeemer liveth.” As I spoke those words aloud that day, the Spirit filled my soul, and I knew more than ever, that those words were true. I knew then, as I know today, that my Redeemer lives!

A few years ago, I was touched as Sister Linda S. Reeves expressed her profound testimony during the LDS Women’s Conference. I felt deeply her touching remarks: 

“Sisters, I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, ‘Was that all that was required?’ I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?”

The experience of teaching about Job has had a profound effect on me to this day. When the going gets tough (and there are plenty of those times), I find myself remembering the many lessons from Job. I remember the deep feelings of my heart that came from God during those challenging days, helping me know that with His help, I can endure the sufferings that are part of my journey. During my trials of life I have learned to fall to my knees, look heavenward, and proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

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