"Another Job Perspective" by Joe Lapointe,
January "Bible Blog" Winner
September 1969, Washington D.C.
A soldier looks out a bus depot window, awaiting a ride home. He was recently released
from Walter Reed Army Hospital after undergoing numerous surgeries and months of
recovery from war wounds. His uniform is immaculate, highlighted by row upon row of
service ribbons, including the Silver Star. He stands there, leaning on crutches, in
Joshua Johnson hails from Tilman, Alabama, a small town bordering Selma. He was
raised mostly by his mother, his father having been hanged by the KKK when he was
only three. Joshua is very polite, well mannered, and fears the Lord—lessons he learned
at home and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Selma.
Early life for Joshua had been difficult. He was constantly made to feel inferior. To the
locals, he and “his kind” were scourges that had to be dealt with. He lived in constant fear
of being attacked, rundown, beaten, even killed. His home was subject to desecrations,
cross burnings, stone throwing, bombings and arsons. Yet Joshua never complained nor
criticized. He sensed the Lord had a purpose for his afflictions and saw them as God’s
strategy in strengthening his character, resolve and discipline.
As Joshua gazes out the depot window, he sees several men gathering and notes that he
seems to be the object of their scorn. In an instant, the men enter the bus depot and assail
Joshua. First comes the name calling, ugly black insults, followed by pushing, shoving,
kicking and finally, beating Joshua senseless with his own crutches. Added to this horror,
the men take turns urinating on him.
Joshua never regains consciousness, dying at Walter Reed.
At Arlington National Cemetery, Ebenezer’s pastor, Rev. Rufus Abernathy, compared
Joshua’s life with Old Testament Job—how both endured humiliation and severe
suffering. Job complained and questioned God repeatedly. Joshua did not. Job was ill-
advised by his three friends. Joshua had three friends who remained silent—the first,
God, who lived in Joshua’s soul; the second, Jesus, who filled the chambers of his heart;
and third, the Holy Spirit who traveled within the blackness of Joshua’s skin. Job was
given long life and riches after his sufferings; Joshua’s life was cut short. But Joshua may
have received the greater treasure.
The brunt of pain and suffering seem to befall the just and innocent, regardless of cause
or condition. The challenge is what we do with suffering, be it gift or curse.