• October 17, 2019

DAWNINGS: Healing from tragedy will take a long time - Odessa American: Columns

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DAWNINGS: Healing from tragedy will take a long time

The Rev. Dawn Weaks is the co-pastor of Connection Church in Odessa.

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Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2019 5:30 am

The major loss of life and sense of safety we experienced as a community over Labor Day weekend is a grief we will feel for a long time.

Some feel it acutely because every day they are missing a loved one who should be right beside them. Others feel it in their bodies as they recover from injuries. Many first and second responders feel it in their minds as they seek peace for their vivid memories. Even if we were not directly affected, we are all, still, grieving.

The Bible is very familiar with grief. Stories of how God’s people navigate great loss fill its pages. Perhaps the most well known of these is the story of Job. Job is often referred to as a righteous man who didn’t lose his faith despite the terrible losses he endured. But if that’s your only impression of Job, chances are you haven’t read past the second chapter in the book. Grief experts might say in the first two chapters, Job is relatively silent because he is in shock.

But in chapter 3, Job lets loose. His broken heart and anger at injustice spill out from every sentence he speaks. He tells God he does not understand and wants God to explain why he is going through such pain. He says he wishes he were never born, and dares God to show up like a man so they can have it out.

Meanwhile, Job’s friends, who were helpful as long as Job was quiet and demure, become very uncomfortable when Job starts speaking his mind. They give him all kinds of pat answers and warn him against questioning God. They are no help at all.

Finally, God answers Job. But it is not with a list of reasons why bad things happen to good people. Instead, God speaks in poetry about the beauty, wisdom, and mystery of God as the Creator of all. Then, God tells the friends-with-all-the-easy-answers to lay off, and asks Job to pray for them because they were fools. According to the Bible, Job, it turns out, is an example of how to relate to God when we are grieving — not because he was saintly, but because he was real.

As we grieve, let’s be real. Reach out for help when you need it. Check in on each other and say how you are. Let’s give each other space to be angry and sad and happy again, maybe all on the same day. Let’s eschew easy answers and dig in to our relationships with God and each other for the long haul. According to Job, being real is how we heal.

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