Life’s disasters can be devastating. Whether they are personal or global, when bad things happen our discouragement can lead to a real sense of desperation and defeat. This was the story of Job, who enjoyed a prosperous life with a big family, a huge estate and lots of livestock. Suddenly, the livestock was stolen, the children were swept away by a storm and he got a terrible skin disease. He says at one point something that we may have said and certainly have felt at times, “I shall never see happiness again (Job 7:1-7).”
Mark’s Gospel gives an account of Jesus being inundated with people who are in terrible pain and hoping he can do something for them (Mark 1:29-39). In the midst of all that human suffering, Jesus went off to a deserted place and prayed. Encountering so much discouragement and desperation, Jesus took some time to get perspective. The perspective that his mission was to preach the Good News that the suffering we experience in life is not the whole picture. The Good News that the redeeming love of Jesus is with us in the midst life’s suffering. The perspective of faith is that God’s love is always with us even though a current circumstance may suggest otherwise.
As it turns out, Job was wrong about never seeing happiness again. Eventually, he does find the comforting presence of God. Even in the midst of terrible suffering, his happiness was not gone forever. Job teaches us that it is not helpful to accept any feelings as final. Feelings are like the weather, they are changeable.
Like Jesus, when we feel overwhelmed by life’s circumstances we need to allow ourselves to get perspective. This may mean waiting the discouraging feelings out because we know they are temporary. Or arguing with feelings of despair and hopelessness confident that with God’s grace, they will not defeat us. Perspective could guide us to seek the professional help of a therapist. It could lead us to a support group or people and places that will help us get the needed perspective that there is more to life than our pain. Jesus headed for the hills of quiet and prayer to get perspective. Sometimes a trip to those hills is just what we need.