“The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Psalm 135:6
Text: Job 1-3, Psalm 135
In today’s reading, we meet Job, a man blameless and upright, who feared God and shunned evil. He was famed as “the greatest man of the East” and was very wealthy with 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke oxen, 500 donkeys and plenty of servants to manage his household.
We also get a glimpse into a heavenly realm in which Satan approaches God and accuses Job of being faithful to God only because of the blessings God has given him. In order to test that theory, God grants permission to Satan to remove Job’s wealth and belongings.
In a single day Job learns all his camels, oxen and donkeys have been stolen, his servants murdered, a “fire from heaven” has killed all his sheep and the servants tending them, and his children are all tragically killed when a mighty wind causes the house they are feasting in to collapse.
Job’s immediate response is both grief and worship:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)
Satan again accuses Job in God’s presence saying Job passed the test because he still had his own life. God allows this theory also to be tested and permits Satan to afflict Job's health and sores break out over his whole body.
In response to this new tragedy, Job’s wife suggests he “curse God and die” but Job sees her words as foolish and asks, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” Despite all his troubles, Job again does not sin by what he says.
Then Job’s 3 friends come to mourn with him. Upon seeing his immense suffering, they sit in the dust with him 7 days and 7 nights in complete silence.
Then Job voices his suffering by cursing the day of his birth. He begins to ask “why” questions and says he has no peace, no quiet, no rest, only turmoil.
Let’s look at the three main characters in these initial chapters. We see first Job, who is not only righteous himself, he also initiates the right-making of each of his children by offering sacrifices before God on their behalf after their lavish parties at each other’s houses. Job’s initial response to his immense loss is grief and worship and acceptance of God’s sovereignty over his troubling situation. We see from this that Job has an immense respect for God and desires to remain in right standing before Him.
Next, we have Satan, whose name literally means, ‘the accuser’. We clearly see Satan’s character of wanting to break down the righteous. After he makes an accusation against Job, his desire and permission is to steal, kill and destroy; his boundary however, is that he can only do what God allows him to.
We also see a snapshot of God’s character in these 3 chapters. In this heavenly realm, God sees and acknowledges his righteous servant, Job. He allows Job to be tested. And also, God remains in complete control over what is permitted in Job’s life.
Does it make us a little uncomfortable to recognize that God allowed Job to suffer? Or, on the other hand, does it bring peace to observe that God filtered out the kind of suffering that would be permitted in Job’s life?
The tragic events Job experienced threw his soul into a state of turmoil, however, we see in contrast that God remained in a state of sovereign control over what Satan was and was not permitted to take away. We are told that Job passed the test when he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. He did well to worship God, to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and right to give and to take away.
How about us? Are we able to acknowledge that God is sovereign above the chaos created by Covid-19? Although this pandemic has thrown the world into turmoil, God is not moved by it. He remains in control and has allowed this to happen. Can we trust like Job did initially that God is still worthy of praise when we go through hard things?
We will all likely at some point in our lives wrestle with the topic and tension of God’s sovereignty and our suffering. Space was made in God’s Word: 42 long chapters are given to this book to explore grief and suffering and God’s role in it all. As we journey further into the book of Job, let’s allow ourselves to be honest with God and ourselves about the effect trials have on us and our need for God in the midst of it all.
Prayer: Lord, I acknowledge your sovereignty and control over the events in the world and in my own experience. Help me as I wrestle with the troubles of life and the idea of suffering. I invite you to make yourself known to me in a clearer way through the reading of the book of Job.
Song: Weep With Me (Rend Collective)
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