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Friday, March 25, 2011

"Love Amid the Ashes" by Mesu Andrews

Most readers--Christian or otherwise--are familiar with the Book of Job from the Bible or at least the premise of the story. This faithful guy loses his possessions when God allows satan to wreak havoc on his life. In the end, Job prays for those who are mocking him and is blessed with more than what he had lost. Andrews takes this story and weaves it into fiction. Of course, she had to add some stuff here and there to make it a novel. However, for the most part, the accuracy is there. What's interesting is the emotions and dialog between Job and his family and friends--especially the women in his life. Want a real dramatic novel that's based on the Bible? Pick up this book.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW


What do you like about the book of Job?

I like that it shows a godly man doubting himself and God. I think even the most spiritually mature believers can become discouraged and doubt. Job’s recorded suffering and questioning of his faith gives us all a measure of hope that we’re never too far gone to come back. We can be completely honest with God about our anger, bitterness, doubts, discouragement; and our merciful God may chastise us but will always love us back into His embrace. And to be completely honest, I’m thankful that Job’s situation is so completely awful—beyond anything I’ve ever heard of anyone else suffering. Even the most tragic of lives can still look at Job and say, “Well, at least my situation isn’t THAT bad!”


What do you say to "Christians" who think Job is just a story but didn't really happen?

I simply smile and say nothing. After growing up in a household of plaid Protestants (Charismatics, Quakers, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, etc.), I’ve had all the arguing I care to endure. I’m not a scholar, so I don’t know all the historical data to support my view that God’s Word is what it appears to be. I can only say that after a year of research, I found nothing to discourage my belief that Job was a real person and actually endured an extended illness with profound blessing at the end of it.


What is your view on suffering?

I don’t like it!!! Ha! I believe it can have several origins. It may be, like Job’s, an attack by our eternal enemy. Or it could be discipline from a loving Heavenly Father, an amended concept to Job’s friends’ accusations. I also believe it can simply be the natural consequences of living in a sin-sick world, an expected byproduct of the Fall. The truth is, I don’t think it’s as important to concentrate on WHY we’re suffering as HOW to deal with it, and more specifically, WHO to turn to in the midst of it.


How do you think Job's suffering story would be different if Job were a woman?

Great question! Job-ette wouldn’t have been allowed to lounge around on an ash pile for a year! All kidding aside, I’m not sure the story would have been preserved if the suffering had been a woman’s. I believe that’s part of the power of Job’s testimony. He was the wealthiest, the most blessed, the greatest man in the East. This description infers the epitome of strength and honor, leading to the lowest depths of human suffering at the threshold of death’s door. In the ancient mind, a woman would not have provided the extreme height to accentuate the plummeting depth. Because men traditionally recorded and preserved history, I’m thankful the Lord used a man to record and preserve Job’s lesson.


Why do you think Job was finally blessed when he prayed for his friends that yelled at him?

I think Job, like many of us, became too self-focused during his suffering. He couldn’t see others, nor could he see and worship God. When the Lord finally revealed Himself in an undeniable way, He pressed Job to continue his outward focus—to see his friends’ needs. I was startled to realize that Scripture does not specifically say Job was ever healed. Obviously, we assume God’s blessing includes healing, but how much of Job’s physical healing came as he focused on others? And how much was immediate and miraculous? Because Love Amid the Ashes is biblical FICTION, I can create that answer. Because I live with a tendency to be me-focused, I must live-out that answer.



Read the first chapter of "Love Amid the Ashes" at www.MesuAndrews.com. You can also download free Bible study and discussion questions and sign up for free weekly e-devotionals.

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