Monday, July 25, 2016

Job 1:21 -- On Blessing the Lord Even When We Don't Feel Blessed

"And said, 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

I've always kind of wondered about the story of Job and what it is supposed to teach us.  Some of the things in the story seem to teach some scary things... that God plays games with our lives, that whatever we try to accomplish in life is worthless, and that our friends are probably not going to support us when we fall on hard times.  ... Perhaps not great lessons. :)  However, in reading through Job today, I came away with a different perspective that I thought I would share.

I really like this verse, where Job loses everything, including his family, in a crazy disaster, and yet he still praises God.  That is a man who has some faith and inner peace.  It obviously affected him, and I'm not saying he was happy in this moment... but he was faithful to God.

Later, Job is cursed with even worse tragedy, and despairs of his life.  He does kind of complain to God, and asks him what he did to deserve all of his loss.  His friends think that he must be a sinner for all of these things to happen to him, because they know that God is just.  And we, as readers, kind of wonder the same things that Job is wondering... why would God do this to a righteous person?  Job's friends talk about good people being blessed and that sinner's joys are just temporary, and so we think, how unjust.  Job is righteous and therefore he should be blessed and happy.  Then, at the end of the book of Job, God and Job have a long conversation and Job repents (42:6).  He is then restored to more than he had before, and lives a long, presumably happy life.

So, what did we learn?  Is God's game finally over?  And I don't know how much of the story of Job is parable and how much really happened... if Satan and God talked about Job that was in the beginning, for instance... but whether or not they did, I think it does illustrate some excellent points for us, the largest of which is the point that God makes to Job during their conversation: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" (Job 38:4).  Job and his friends could sit and argue all day about whether his punishment was just or unjust, and how good people should get good and bad people should get bad... but they, and we, don't know how the world works.

The truth is, as God has shown in other places in the scriptures, that injustices and trials and storms are going to happen to us all.  Righteousness is a protection against sin and despair, but anytime we think that we know what God "should" have done, and think that he hasn't done it... we're setting our wills against his.  He is not playing a game with us.  He's teaching us.  And if Satan is involved in those lessons, it is only as a distraction.  This life isn't about "be good and get the most stuff."  It's about "be good" ... seeing if we can learn that.  And f we attach stuff, or health, or anything else to that goodness as the only reason that we do it, we aren't learning that lesson... that goodness and light *are* the inherent reward.  They aren't something we do so God will make us rich and powerful. :)

Today, let's make sure we're learning the lessons that God is teaching.  Let's make sure that we aren't setting our wills against God and demanding or expecting our lives to go in a certain way because we are being good.  Let's be open to whatever God has in store to teach us, and bless him through it all.  That's the lesson... and although there are definitely blessings to be had, like Job had in the end of his story, sometimes we have to wait until the happy ending for them.  The right now part is sometimes going to be a challenge.  And that's okay.  That's how we learn.  The ultimate lesson that Job teaches?  ... God knows what he is doing.  He knows the timing, he knows the best thing to do.  Let's trust that, and go forward, even in the worst circumstances.  Blessed be the name of the Lord. :)

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