after Job had prayed for his friends…JOb 42:10
After? When did this man of suffering start praying for his friends?
I love to swim and pray, but the praying doesn’t always happen right away. In swimming as in life, we often have to take care of ourselves, before we can really enter into prayer.
Not expecting the water temperature to be quite so low, today I jumped into surprise and a cold blast and began sprinting nonstop. I knew at some point, the laps would warm my limbs and core and shake the crazy chill.
Those first few laps of survival mode-I was consumed with strokes and breathing—acutely aware of my discomfort and waiting for it to pass.
Today was longer than usual. I lost track how many laps passed or how many times I stretched my hams at the bars … but finally, it happened. I was swimming comfortably—in the zone—flowing through the water unmindful of body temperature, breathing, or muscles.
It was then, the prayers could rise.I felt God’s presence. They surfaced to my mind one after the other…
A friend who may be putting her dog down today. Peace for an anxious parent. Young people in new relationships. Team players and boundaries at work for friends with job stress. Medical intervention for those with invasive health issues. Faith building friendships for college students. Protection for our soldiers and wisdom for our President.
Prayers flowed easily…when I was free of extreme discomfort to my body and felt safe. It made me appreciative of the verse to love our neighbor as we love ourselves—the Biblical principle of caring for ourself, loving ourself so we can love others. Interesting, yesterday I had read the last chapter of Job, when his prayers turned from himself apparently… to others.
… after Job prayed for his friends…(Job 42:10 )
After he prayed for his friends, then he was healed and his life turned around-all he had lost was restored by God’s providential plan.
He prayed for the friends who had misunderstood him and condemned him over thirty chapters of the book with agonizing lectures…producing thought-provoking contemplation, ebbs and flows of emotions as Job attempts to get his bearings in a new world. Thrust into his new normal, minus those he once loved and with a physical body covered with painful sores, a new distressing–season of his life driven by tragedy.
Job began to pray for his friends. So what’s the significance?
He prayed when he had more of his bearings. After God’s counsel freed him from false guilt and accusations from misguided human counsel and judgment. He heard God’s voice (Job 38) out of the storm.
When he reached a place of self-acceptance and learned to live with his disease and the losses. When time had passed from the internal and external havoc wreaked from a sudden change of debilitating circumstances.
In the storm God spoke. Job heard God’s voice again in these last chapters of this brutal season of his life journey…and the shock and trauma of his agony lessens. I thought how swimming lap after lap this morning, when the chill finally released from me this morning…I was able to pray.
Job prayed for his friends, following chapter after chapter of processing his life and pain before God and others. When it was time and he could and he found his bearings in his own pool of life…he began to pray.
Sure, circumstances turned around. But is it because of his prayer as it seems to imply?
Job did all he could with what he knew to stay alive. Satan had tried to squash him, friends had tried to help him (with the kind of help he didn’t need). Ultimately, he pulled through the quagmire even when he couldn’t see God or pray for anyone because he couldn’t get past his own trauma and need for survival. Sometimes we are in survival mode. It is all we can do to keep afloat. Why is it so hard to pray?
Not until Job steadied, and his spirit thawed could the prayers flow…sometimes we are in that place too.
When you are going through chilling circumstances, don’t expect more of yourself than you should, than others expect, or than God—who loves you, knows all and sees all—expects of you.