I’m currently studying Job, and I ended yesterday’s reading in the 13th chapter. The book of Job begins, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1) Because Job was blameless and upright, the Lord blessed him with a loving family, health, and much wealth.
Job had seven sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east (Job 1:2-3). Satan (the accuser) showed up when the sons of God presented themselves before the Lord.
“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:8-12)
Job’s oxen and donkeys and the servants overseeing them were slain, but a lone servant survived to tell Job what happened. Another servant came rushing in to tell him that he alone survived the fire from heaven that consumed all the sheep and servants attending them. While he was still speaking another lone servant rushed in to tell Job that the Chaldeans made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword. And while that servant was still speaking, yet another lone servant came with the news that all of his children were dining together and a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead.
In one day Job went from being blessed with great wealth and children he loved who loved him, his wife and each other. Satan was allowed to take nearly all that he had to prove to the Lord that without the blessings, Job would curse the Lord. And yet instead, “Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22)
The story (much more to come including being accused by his “friends”) is not only a story of loss, but of trusting in who God is despite circumstances. It is after the accusations of these acquaintances that Job responds, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15a).
As I meditated on Job’s response, I was reminded of lyrics from one of my favorite contemporary songs:
For me, this story and the words of this song remind me that the Lord never promised an easy life to those who follow Him. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) THAT is our promise — no matter the trouble we go through on this earth, He gives us the strength to sing it is well with my soul because He is the Sovereign Lord who has promised that He already overcame this sinful world.
Even when it’s difficult for us to look away from our circumstances, we have the promise that the Holy Spirit is praying on our behalf and reminding us of God’s truth: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:26-28)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah…Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” (Ps 46:1-3, 10-11)