It is a story that is almost impossible to grasp. Our Father and our God granting permission to the enemy of us all to take everything from Job. This permission gave satan free reign to utterly destroy Job. The only caveat was that satan was not to lay a finger on the man himself.
I have always struggled with this story. My brain cannot understand why God did this but it absolutely understands the power in the message. Job was living his life and celebrating with his beautiful family when he got message after message that everything he owned was systematically being destroyed. It was so bad that the description of these events uses words like “while he (the messenger) was still speaking” meaning, while he was getting word of one loss, somebody else was standing in line to tell him about another. Sound familiar?
The old adage “when it rains it pours” seems to be true, and certainly was true in the case of Job. Many of us have experienced tremendous loss, loss so great that it steals your breath even to think about it, sometimes years later. Loss so great that tears flow freely as we fully understand our complete inability to get people or things back that have been taken from us, sometimes in what seems like the cruelest of fashions. Every morning I look in the mirror and staring back at me is an image of a woman who has lost much and if I look closely I am pretty sure I can see permanent tracks of my tears.
I have struggled to write this for many reasons, chief among them my own stubbornness in the message I wanted to convey. All of us have experienced painful and costly loss. Loss that changes the landscape of our lives and loss that colors every decision we make ranging from how open our hearts are to those that love us to selfishness in worldly possessions. We have all attempted to put a Band-Aid on the pain and declare our situation “not as bad” as somebody else’s. We throw walls up so that more loss doesn’t hurt as bad and therefore, we miss out on much of life—merely to protect ourselves from pain. Many of us spend years in a standoff with God, some of us not even talking to Him or seeking Him in times of unspeakable pain and loss.
But not Job. As bad news kept coming, he finally got in his place of worship and bowed before God and declared a truth that I don’t like very much:
“The Lord gives and the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord, and in all of this Job charged God with no wrongdoing” Job 1:21-22
These two verses are hard for me. I compare myself to Job in times of loss, or in times of grieving loss of the past. My pain doesn’t seem as bad, therefore I don’t give it the respect it needs to drive me to my knees. Therefore, the absolute last place I find myself when I remember loss or experience it is anywhere near a place of worship. I certainly am not apt to praise Him during the loss and you better believe the last thing I do is praise him FOR the loss. And I am as good as the best attorney in the world in my indictment of my God.
I simply can’t praise Him for it. I simply can’t refrain from blaming Him.
Or can I?