After my son died, I relied more on my prayer life and my relationship with the Lord than on other people. This helped me regain some control over my life. It gave me an opportunity to reorder my commitments and values and take delight in the Lord.
The book of Job says, “Delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.”
In my grief, I turned to the book of Job for help. I learned that Job experienced loss on an even greater scale. He lost all of his children, his house, his servants, and his animals. How did he react to such a loss? “When Job heard this, he tore his clothes and shaved his head because of his great sorrow. He knelt on the ground, then worshiped God and said: “We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!” In spite of everything, Job did not sin or accuse God of doing wrong.”
In his grief, Job loathed his life and wished that he had never been born. He was filled with bitterness and wept. His friends turned on him; his wife told him to curse God and die. God even allowed his health to get worse; sores covered his body. One would think that God was punishing this man for some reason. However, Job talked to God in a whirlwind. It is through this experience that Job has a change of heart and mind.
God asked Job to pray for his friends with whom He is angry. God further says that He will accept his prayer because it is Job who will pray for them. Gerald Janzen questions this and wonders, “What enables Job to do this?” His conclusion is: “The fact that he prays for the friends shows that what he has experienced in and through the whirlwind and the rain that follows has worked in him a change of heart and mind.”
Job had a change of heart and mind; in other words, Job learned the art of genuine compassion. In this encounter, I find it interesting that God was willing to talk to Job, even while God may not have made much sense to him. In my view, Job’s change of heart and mind suggests that he is in a different stage of grief and he is no longer angry at God but becoming more accepting of his losses.
Job went through stages of grief. He understood loss at the deepest level because he lost everything he ever loved. He knows what it feels like to experience this. His friends have not experienced these same things in their lives; therefore, they are not aware of the real art of compassion. Because of this, God favored Job. With this change of heart and mind, Job can offer a prayer of genuine compassion on behalf of his friends to help them find favor with God, too.
Some lessons that I take away from this story are that those who have experienced loss can have a change of heart and mind after talking to God in prayer. When you pray to God, you can begin to work through your pain. While you do not entirely forget your suffering, you do not let it have power over your life. By helping us heal, the power of prayer teaches us the art of compassion. We learn that we can help spread Christ’s love and show compassion for others by praying for people who need God’s help.
Tags: Prayer, Job, Compassion, Loss
 Job 27:26-28
 Job 1:20-22
 Gerald Janzen, At the Scent of Water: The Ground of Hope in the Book of Job, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2009), 108.
Janzen, Gerald. At the Scent of Water: The Ground of Hope in the Book of Job. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2009.