As I look at Job’s longing for death, I note three important safeguards, which may have kept him alive long enough for him to recover.
1. Job’s family. Although she chided him at the beginning, Job’s wife stood by him until the end. His brothers and sisters, not mentioned at the beginning, also supported him at the end. Soldiers with combat experience need family support.
2. Job’s friends. Most important, his friends, who met, came together to visit Job when they heard about his tragedies, sat with him in compassionate silence for a week, let Job talk and talk. Although they misinterpreted Job’s tragedies as a sign of God’s punishment for personal sin, they provided critical social support. How can you take your own life, when your friends won’t leave you alone? Finally, they endured with him until the end. Soldiers with combat experience also need peers who will help them overcome their fear of being seen as weak.
3. God. Then, too, Job’s persistence in seeking a confrontation with God played a part in his survival. Even though he wanted to die, he had to live long enough to obtain vindication from God. When God graciously granted Job an audience, Job found not only survival, but also blessing. Soldiers with combat experience need to see a way to live.
Like Job, our returning veterans, then, need family support, friends to help overcome the shame of seeking help, and a reason to live beyond themselves.
Watch for my next blog July 13.