For a year, my work had been intense. Some organizational changes reduced resources, just as major calls on those resources were getting underway. It was one of those perfect storms. The work mushroomed; the resources didn’t. the resources were diverted to whatever was the fashion of the moment.
And it didn’t get any better. The work demands grew in intensity. It became so intense, in fact, that I had to do something once unthinkable for me – I “triaged” the work, and determined what simply wasn’t going to get done.
There was a cost for this, of course. There was an organizational cost, and there was a personal cost. More than once I silently asked the question, “When is this going to end?”
I didn’t think that it might not end. I didn’t consider that this might be a permanent state of affairs.
Things changed, eventually. But the change happened slowly, and in ways I didn’t expect.
I look back on that time today, and I still don’t know if I can see the point. Perhaps that’s the point – there wasn’t one. Perhaps it was a simple demonstration of a broken human workplace, inhabited by broken human beings.
As difficult as it was, it wasn't a life-threatening event. It wasn’t a serious illness or loss of a loved one. This wasn't the horror of the Holocaust or genocide. There are many more worse things to experience than a broken workplace. And I wasn’t Bob Cratchit working for Ebenezer Scrooge.
But it was hard. It was daily, very daily. It became hard to get up each day and try to look forward to work. It became hard not to become a clock watcher.
And the circumstances led to an inevitable question, one that Bob Sorge asks in The Fire of Delayed Answers.
“Is it God’s will for me to suffer in this way at this present time?”
In his own case, the answer to the question was yes.
And as I’m drawn to the same answer, I don’t want to be. I don’t want to think through the implications of that “yes.” And yet the “yes” is plainly there.
The “yes,” of course, is immediately followed by “why.” And there’s no good answer to “why,” no humanly understandable answer. This is the question of suffering so often asked – if there is a God, why does he allow suffering?
The honest answer is “I don’t know.” A theological answer is probably readily at hand, but when someone is suffering, the last thing they want is a treatise on theology. Or being told there must be some major sin in their life.
Pat answers to suffering have been around a long time. Since the Book of Job was first written, in fact, and it’s the oldest book of the Bible. The answers weren’t very satisfying then, either.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. To see what others had to say about this chapter, “The Perseverance of Job,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.
Photograph of the Holocaust Monument, Moscow, by Lynn Greyling via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.