When we lose everything and everyone we value; when we find ourselves stripped to the bare minimum of existence, with that existence itself tenuous, how do we survive? After Nazi Germany sent Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist, to the extermination camp at Auschwitz, he found himself in just that situation. Although a prisoner, he survived by, among other strategies, analyzing what gave him and others hope to go on. Love, in the remembered image of his wife, sustained him; art, though forbidden, through simple drawings, sustained him and others; caring for the sick and dying also helped him, as did simple humor. (Man’s Search for Meaning, 1984). Those too sick, too weak, or too young to work, died.
Satan likewise strips Job of everything and almost everyone meaningful to him: businesses, employees, children, and health. Even his wife’s support buckles under the crushing load of her grief, and, perhaps, her desire to see an end to his suffering (“Do you still keep your integrity? Curse God and die” 2:9.) Like Frankl, however, Job survives. Tenuous at first, Job grows stronger through the support of colleagues (in spite of their misunderstanding) and through his relationship with God (in spite of his bitter complaints).
Through chronic fatigue and extreme chemical sensitivity for over 25 years, Juli Grose, my daughter-in-law, also survives, her faith intact. In a letter she wrote someone with a disability, she suggests he pray with her: “Heavenly Father, I have more pain than I know what to do with. I don’t understand your purpose in allowing this kind of suffering in my life. But your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts than my thoughts. I will, therefore, do my best within my limits to offer all my time, energy, and will to serve you.”
Satan’s wager (see 9/13 blog) failed for Job, for Frankl and for Juli. Have you at one time been stripped of almost everything meaningful? How did you survive?