And then I thought of Job …

May 9-13, 2018, as a family we were in Oklahoma City, OK as our beloved 12 year old Reuben was competing at the 2018 Men’s Junior Olympic USA Gymnastics Nationals Championship competition. Reuben did not do as well as he wanted to and missed qualifying to the final round of competition. While the result was heart breaking for him and hard for us as a family, the outcome from this experience far outweighs any medal he could have earned.

Given below is the writeup by Reuben, who penned down his thoughts, after he felt heart broken. It is a a little long, but take the time to read and be blessed.

Reuben Paul on his knees before GodOn Friday, May 11th, I competed in the 2018 Men’s Junior Olympic Gymnastics USA Nationals competition in the Level 8, age 12 category in Oklahoma City, OK. I was hoping to qualify for the final round on Sunday, May 13th. I had trained very hard for this event – more than 20 hours a week and I really wanted to qualify and win. My coaches, Greg Dolittle and Lee Ho, had put so much time into training me. Also many friends from church like Suja aunty & Josh uncle were praying for me. Santhosh uncle from India wished me well and was praying for me. Even on the morning of the competition, Suresh uncle prayed over me. I personally went on my knees and pleaded for God to give me success, and I went trusting that God would show up to help me do well.

PB routine as Coach Lee Ho watches

During the practice and training sessions, I ‘hit’ every routine. A hit in gymnastics means – no fall during the routine. But at the preliminary qualifying competition, I fell on my first event and then there were more falls. I came 68th in place and felt a little disappointed. However I thought that I had qualified to the final round on Sunday. I was happy at one moment, thinking that I had a chance to do better in the finals, but then the next moment, when my coach informed me that because of a change that the USA gymnastics organization had made, he was sorry, I did not make it, I felt crushed. According to the USA Gymnastics published information, the top 72 in my age and level category would qualify for the finals but they changed it to take only the top 60 to the final round. I missed qualifying to the final round, because of this change.
Joel Montgomery with Reuben and Ittai

It was heart breaking. Emotionally, it was very very hard. I cried. I cried and felt like my dreams were shattered and my heart was broken. Coach Greg felt so sorry and bad for me. My teammate, Joel (Level 10, 16 year old gymnast), tried to console me and said it was okay. My dad said he was helpless watching me crumble and weep bitterly. I think this was the first time, I had cried so much. My mom hugged me tight and said that she was proud of me. Even my sweet little 6 year old brother, Ittai, who was sad for me, wanted me to feel good and said “Maybe the judges did not see me all the time and gave me bad scores.” (I think the judges were fair though).

Olympic Medalist Raj Bhavsar with Reuben - a mentor and friendI know they all meant well but I just wanted to get away from there and go back to the hotel room and hide. We were walking back to the hotel room, when Olympic medalist, Raj Bhavsar, who had some of his own team’s gymnasts competing in the next event, texted my dad, asking if we were still in the area. He said he was in the back gym. I reluctantly walked back to meet him. He encouraged me saying that, he once did not qualify and that it was hard, but to get to the top sometimes you have to hit the bottom. He said I was a brilliant kid. Thinking back now, I am very grateful to Raj for taking the time for meeting with me (even when he had his own gymnasts who were getting ready to compete) and his encouraging words.

We got back to the hotel and my mind was raising with many emotions and questions. I cried more, holding on to mama and dada. My parents let me weep. Ittai, tried to help – he said that “if God wanted me to qualify, he would have made it happen.”

The next day, we drove home. During the 6 hours drive, my dada was internally sad and wrestling with God with many questions. He was questioning God as to “Why he would not raise his child up, who is shameless and bold to share about his faith, be it as a cybersecurity conference or at a gymnastics competition?”, “How could God be so mean?”, “Does not the unbeliever mock God, when God does not show up to the aid of his own children?”

I had many questions of my own – questions about the event, the training, and even my faith. Questions like “What if I had not fallen?”, “Why did I not get better scores?”, “Was my training not enough?”,  “How can this be?”, “Why did they change the cut off level?” and most importantly, “How can God do this to me?”, “Why did God not show up?”, “Why, Why, Why …” We reached home and went to bed.The next morning on the way to church, my dada shared with us, that he was angry with God and questioned Him. Then he realized that maybe God was trying to teach us something. He said “Diamonds are rough and not good to look at when they are in the ground, they are formed under intense pressure and heat and with the careful chiseling of a gem-smith, they are shaped into beautiful items – items fit to go into the crown of a king.” He said, “Heartbreaks make your heart grow stronger, but what is important is that your heart is one that seeks after God’s own heart”. “God may be trying to teach us something”, he said. I replied, “Dada, I had my questions too… I felt God did not show up and was not with me, even though I wanted to give him the glory… and then I thought of Job”

See, the Bible teaches us that Job was a good man, an upright man, a blameless man and yet he lost everything — his property, his health to the point of death, and even his children. When compared to what Job had to grow through, me missing the final round was nothing. My dada reminded me that even more than Job, Jesus had to suffer pain and anguish on the Cross to death. See, there is no crown without the cross.

I have a year to train harder and try again next year. Next time, I am down and feel like questioning God, or feel that he did not show up, I hope I remind myself, to think of Job (and Jesus). Coach Greg Dolittle making sure Reuben is all set


P.S: I want thank my coaches, Coach Greg and Coach Lee, for their time and effort in training me. I am very thankful to mentor and friend Raj Bhavsar for his encouraging words. I want to thank Josh uncle, Suja aunty, Santhosh uncle and Suresh uncle, for their prayers. I love my mama and dada and my brother Ittai very much and thank God for them in my life. To God alone be the glory… not my will, but his be done in my life. Let me always think of Job.

Jesus in the OT :: Job

The book of Job gives us a glimpse of who Jesus is in the Old Testament (O.T).

The story of Job is a fascinating account of what happens in a realm beside the physical. The facts of the account are as follows. Job is an perfect and upright man, one who feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:1). Yet, he loses his Wealth, His Family and His Health. And even in such dire circumstances, Job refrains from cursing God but instead glorifies God by blessing Him.

Job prefigures Jesus in that Jesus is THE PERFECT and UPRIGHT (not only sinless but blameless) God made Man Who feared God (demonstrated by His keeping of the commandments – John 15:10) And eschewed evil (there was no sin found in Him – 1 Peter 2:22)

Jesus lost
His Wealth (Treasures of heaven (Matthew 6:20 & Revelation 21),
His Family (His Father, whom He had to address as My God, My God, why have you forsaken me (Psalm 22)) and
His Health (He was marred beyond recognition and his body was crucified, his blood was shed (Isaiah 53))

In Job 4:12-14 – Job sees an image and trembles in his bones. At the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His day, the heavens and earth will shake (Haggai 2:21; Isaiah 13:13) when it receives its King.  Interestingly, Job in Hebrew (Iyyob) means the “Persecuted One” and in Aramaic it means “To Come Back”.

In Job, Jesus is the Persecuted One who will Come Back as King of kings and Lord of lords.

No matter what – I will bless the LORD at all times

Many decisions that ought to be taken are not taken due to one of the following reasons:
1. we try to rationalize the situation assuming that our finite and limited human minds has infinite comprehension and abilities or
2. we think of the consequences of the decision and are paralyzed for fear of life or fear of being ridiculed.

In today’s text, taken from the book of Job, we will look at Job, who chose to bless the LORD at all times, NO MATTER WHAT.

Speculated to be chronologically one of the earliest books of the Bible, the book of Job tells the story of a man who loses everything, his health, his wealth and even his family, in spite of the fact that he was an upright man. His record begins with a heavenly debate between God and Satan and moves through three iterations of earthly debates between Job and his friends, in which they try to answer the question – Why; why is an upright man persecuted so gravely, that at one point, he even wishes death over his misery. In conclusion, the divine diagnosis yields the conclusion, that no matter what, the sovereignty of God is in fact unquestionable and mere acceptance of that is what God seeks of each of us. Job does indeed receive in return two times more than what he had lost (Job 42:10), but that is not the highlight of the entire account, although it may seem to be the case.  The highlight of Job’s life is his integrity and resolve to bless the LORD at all times, NO MATTER WHAT and despite him, losing his position (his servants were slain), his property (cattle taken away) and his paternity (children killed), he makes a very powerful statement; one that each of us should live each day with, which states “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away: blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21). Interestingly in parallel, Philippians 1:21 states, For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

If Job had rationalized the situation, he might have concluded that God was indeed evil, for having subjugated him under intense emotional, physical and mental turmoil, and he would have probably ended up like anyone else who cursed God and died. His act of integrity not only did it deliver him from all his troubles, but it also restored unto him twice as much as he had before, aand before he died full of days, he saw four generations. But most importantly, his act of integrity, did not let the head of God hang in shame. See God had boasted about Job to Satan and had questioned Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Job’s fervency and resolve to bless the LORD at all times, helped God to hold His head high and in essence, it would not be far fetched to say that a befitting conclusion to the life account of Job, is reflective of this testimony that God had of Job – there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?. Can this be said of us?

Points to ponder:

  1. Are we blessing the LORD at all times?
  2. What is God’s testimony of you/me today and what will it be when your/my life is over (hopefully full of days as was Job)?
  3. Can we have the heart of Job, one of integrity, that will bless the LORD at all times, NO MATTER WHAT?