There is an often quoted story of a rabbi who encouraged people to study the Jewish law, the Torah. He told them it would put scripture on their hearts. He was asked by one of his listeners why on their hearts and not in them. His answer was that only God can put scripture in our hearts, but that by reading scripture we can put it on our hearts. Then, when our hearts break, the words fall in.
Suffering is a time when the word of God can hold us as we see the bigger picture and know the longer story, and like Job, know our redeemer lives. The book of Job asks the question: why is there suffering in the world? The answer is simply that we live in a world that is not designed to prevent suffering, but that suffering does not have the last word. The God who creates the universe and who knows each of us by name holds the bigger picture. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, and he shares in our suffering. He is there to hear our lament; in due time he can help us understand and reframe our suffering, telling a new story; he can help us make meaning of suffering. And he is a just God who holds the bigger picture and the longer story: it’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming. He is the God in whom we can trust. God’s response to Job, rather than the false counsel of his ‘comforters’, are words to hide on and receive in our hearts as we navigate the journey of suffering ourselves and with others.