by Lexiann Grant
“Then came there unto him all his brethren,…and they bemoaned him, and comforted him…every [one] also gave him…an earring…” Job 42:11 KJV
She was dressed neatly in clean but inexpensive clothing of muted beige and white — straight skirt, cotton blouse and a sweater vest. The woman’s thinning hair was short but fluffed and manicured in place. Her round face, rather like Mrs. Claus or an aging cherub, displayed a serene, inviting smile.
I don’t remember if she wore jewelry.
When I encountered her it was in a convenience store, while getting a coffee drink to push me through the rest of another endlessly bad day. At that time I was enduring stressors that had brought me to a point where I’d lost most of my faith and was wondering if checking out of life was an option.
The 70-something lady was holding a shallow, plastic box, showing the contents to a few people, most of whom ignored her or moved on. My first thought was “oh no,” a manipulative panhandler or fanatic of an odd religious practice.
An aura of goodness she seemed to be emitting caught my attention. When our glances met, I was drawn towards her. Inside the box were dozens of sets of tiny, cheap earrings that she said she’d made. She asked if I’d like a pair.
I decided that if she’d gone to so much trouble to earn a little money, I’d buy a pair to help with whatever her financial desperation was. I chose a pair and asked her how much.
“They’re free,” she answered, “like God’s love.”
Ah oh. Here comes the pitch. I was about to tell her “thanks but no thanks because I love my Episcopal church.” Instead, as I opened my mouth to speak, I started crying and told her how much I needed to hear that. Although I didn’t detail my problems, I told her my life had been difficult for so long that I was cracking under the strain.
She hugged me and just let me cry. I hugged her back, regained my composure, thanked her and began to step away. But before this grandmotherly comforter let me go, she patted me on the back and whispered, “This is a hug from God. He loves you and wants to remind you He’s always with you, even now.”
Somehow that mysterious meeting uplifted me sufficiently to keep going through the tough times. Like Job, my life was not restored immediately. But I put those earrings in a prominent place with my others and looked at them whenever I needed a spiritual reminder that God cares.
This woman – and God acting through her — reminded me to be grateful, and to continue to believe through all circumstances. Also like Job, it prompted me, again, to pray for enemies and bad people, for hurtful family or friends. Eventually my faith and hope – and living each day, one day at a time — were restored.
And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 KJV
During the pandemic I searched for this woman online and through acquaintances who belonged to larger churches in the area. Only one person had heard of an older woman handing out earrings as a token of God’s love, but they didn’t know who she was. Finally, I found an obituary with her picture. It described a person of great faith, active in her church and community. But there was no mention of her godly earring gifts.
Her son was listed as a pastor in another state, so I contacted him and asked if he knew of her earring mission. He did not. This lady and her work will not be forgotten by those of us whose lives she touched with caring. What a gift. So much time, effort, expense and love. And she did it in secret, not seeking recognition, only giving of God to people in need.
This world needs more people like her.
Lord, help us to serve as your earrings, touching others with your love through the gifts you have so freely given to us. Amen.
Lexiann Grant is a retired writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry.
*Older versions of the Bible, i.e. King James, Wycliffe, Geneva, Douay-Rheims, specifically say “earring” in Job 42:11. In later versions, including NRSV or NIV, it is written as rings of gold.
*The Christian Orthodox church recognizes May 6 as the feast day of Righteous Job the Long-Suffering.