I have a hard time criticizing Job’s wife. I’ve heard her faulted for her lack of faith because of her one known statement. In Job 2:9, “His wife said to him, ‘Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’” With a wife like that, who needs enemies, right? What made her say such a cruel thing to her husband? I’m no psychologist but everything I’ve read about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder makes me think she had it. Or you might say she had “Traumatic Bereavement.”
God gave Satan permission to test Job to see if he would maintain his integrity. That testing involved the loss of 11,000 animals, servants and seven sons and three daughters. Then Job’s health was taken as he developed debilitating sores from head to toe. I can’t imagine the trauma this sudden loss would have been for Job’s wife. She was a woman used to great wealth. She had servants and a husband who presided over it all. She had grown children who were her delight. Then in one quick time-span, it’s all taken from her. Then, her powerful, wealthy husband is reduced to sitting in ashes scraping his sores with broken pottery. His anguish must have been unbearable to witness on top of her traumatic loss.
In a February 4, 2013 article in “Christianity Today,” Romeo Vitelli, Phd. explains that child-death is one of the greatest traumas imaginable for a parent. It’s an emotional blow that can lead to depression, anxiety, cognitive and physical symptoms linked to stress, increased rick of suicide, marital problems, and mental health issues. Another article I read said due to a child’s death a parent experiences intense fear, horror and helplessness. These all add up to Traumatic Bereavement or Post Traumatic Stress.
So, I don’t blame Job’s wife at all for acting out of her trauma. It’s interesting, though, that the very thing God commended Job for to Satan (Job 2:3), his integrity, is the very thing she criticized her husband for. God also commended Job for not losing his integrity and not cursing God – the very thing his wife told him to do. In her trauma induced bereavement, she was buying in to Satan’s lies.
I don’t criticize her, yet I think her brief mention in the Bible is there to teach us something. We are all going to face trauma and loss in our lives, though I can’t imagine any being as horrific as hers. Loss is loss, though, and if your heart is broken, how does one keep from falling for Satan’s trap?
The only way is to be proactive. In the midst of Traumatic Bereavement is not a good time to come up with resources to help you cope. What can be done ahead of time:
- Grow in your faith and your closeness with God. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (NIV) As with Job, in a time of prosperity or trauma, it’s integrity with God that guides us. A faithful, consistent walk with God, praying to Him about all things, reading His Word daily and listening to His instruction will develop that integrity of faith. Then you’ll be prepared for the good days and the horrible days.
- Be prepared with Scripture verses that are truth for you and can be clung to as a rock. In Psalm 62, David sang, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (verses 1 & 2). There are many others, but have them tucked away in your heart before trauma strikes.
- Develop a close support group. When tragedy strikes, we all need people we can call on a moment’s notice who will be there for us. These people are impossible to find when you’re in the midst of Traumatic Bereavement. Cultivate healthy relationships with family members, mentors and friends. These people will pray for you when you can’t pray, see what needs to be done and do it, and stand in the gap for you where you need your back covered. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
So I don’t want to criticize Job’s wife. I want to hug her and hold her hand while she grieves. We never know what trauma someone may be dealing with. It never helps to criticize or demean someone’s faith. Let’s be those who come alongside each other with kindness and sensitivity. I want to be loving at all times and then be there for my friends in their time of grief as I know they’ll be there for me.
Jenny's thoughts on Job's wife are at http://thefivestages.wordpress.com