( I didn't want to write this, yet I did, if that makes any sense!? )
With a brother flirting with danger ( in the form of an aggressive leukemia ) in the midst of a family-gathering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our parents, we are experiencing joy in the midst of our sadness, and exuberance in the midst of our tears! If not for this celebration, we, no doubt, would have flocked to our brother's side to support him & his family in their time of need, but with the celebration having been in the plans for the past couple years, our being here in support of him & his family was pretty much guaranteed; schedules had been laid, time & money had been set aside ( or at least earmarked for this purpose!
We often wonder, when things like this happen, 'why me, Lord; why is this happening to us?' It is easy, too easy sometimes, when looking at this and like situations to act as Job's friends, Eliphaz in particular ( Job 4, 5, 15, 22 ), and either accuse them of some sort of wrong-doing, or, more commonly, blurt out what we believe to be the right thing at the wrong time!
Those of us looking in from the outside can only imagine what it might mean to be stuck in an uncertain limbo, waiting non the doctors to decide the best course of action, for the cancer to take it's course, or for God to decide we've had enough. It's hard for us to totally understand what it means for our life to be flipped upside down & hanging precariously from a limb, unless we've been there ourselves! Even if we have been in a similar situation, it is difficult to know exactly how best to comfort in such a situation!
Again, we are full of wonder when things like this happen, because it is hard for us, with our finite & feeble minds, to discern why things like this might be happening to us! Reading through the book of Job, one might get the idea that our Heavenly Father wanted to test Job, to see if his faith was really as strong as Job said. This may be an accurate enough observation, but is this all that was involved, a simple testing?
We may note that this trial had several intended effects, one of which, as has been recently pointed out, was to prove to The Adversary that God's People don't love Him just because of what He does for them, in this case, 'a hedge of protection'! Aside, as well, from a perceived testing to prove Job's faithfulness, we see that through Job's trial, his friends received a blessing, a restoration, probably akin to that of Job's!
It is often in the trials of our friends ( or brothers ) that we often see most clearly the areas in our own lives which need to be strengthened! Often, whether because of focusing on the trials in our own lives, or because of the distance between us or whatever the reason may be, we are blinded to our own need for Communion and the need of others in our world! In many cases, and in fact, in most, it is because of a lack, not in our own lives, per se', but in the lives of others, which can be pointed to as the reason!
While these situations serve to strengthen us, they most often serve a dual or even tri-fold purpose.We are built up into the Greater Purpose that our Heavenly Father has for our lives, and at the same time, others are blessed, whether directly or indirectly, by helping where need is or by just observing our reaction to the trial. Let us remember, in each of our several trials, that we were Created to Serve such a Purpose, and face each trial with this Blessed Realization in mind!
Charles Haddon Shank