Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, . . . inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! Job 19:23–24
After receiving the devastating diagnosis of a rare and incurable brain cancer, Caroline found renewed hope and purpose through providing a unique service: volunteering photography services for critically ill children and their families. Through this service, families could capture the precious moments shared with their children, both in grief and “the moments of grace and beauty we assume don’t exist in those desperate places.” She observed that “in the hardest moments imaginable, those families . . . choose to love, despite and because of it all.”
There’s something unspeakably powerful about capturing the truth of grief—both the devastating reality of it and the ways in which we experience beauty and hope in the midst of it.
Much of the book of Job is like a photograph of grief—capturing honestly Job’s journey through devastating loss (1:18–19). After sitting with Job for several days, his friends wearied of his grief, resorting to minimizing it or explaining it away as God’s judgment. But Job would have none of it, insisting that what he was going through mattered, and wishing that the testimony of his experience would be “engraved in rock forever!” (19:24).
Through the book of Job, it was “engraved”—in a way that points us in our grief to the living God (vv. 26–27), who meets us in our pain, carrying us through death into resurrection life.
How can facing pain honestly bring healing? When have you experienced unexpected grace and beauty within great grief?
Compassionate God, help me to witness honestly to those who are experiencing pain and offer the hope You provide.
Who was Job? We can glean from his writings that he was well-traveled and could draw on extensive experience and knowledge. He was no doubt knowledgeable of the constellations (9:9; 38:31), plants (8:11–19), weather and precipitation, and various animals (chs. 39–41) mentioned in the book.
Scholars can’t pinpoint the exact time the book was written. Yet Job has a patriarchal setting, which has led some to suggest a date as early as the time of Abraham. But Job also alludes to (or quotes) Scripture (Job 7:17–18 [Psalm 8:4]; 12:21, 24 [Psalm 107:40]), which suggests that the writer had access to these writings and therefore would indicate a much later date. The book’s setting is the land of Uz, which scholars say is probably ancient Edom or Aram/Syria (Job 1:1). Uz was near a desert (v. 19) and the land was suitable for raising livestock (v. 3).