Faith: An Ancient Lesson
Job 1:13-22 - The Message
Sometime later, while Job's children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped: “Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I'll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed.”
Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God
God's Mighty Hand
Job’s declaration in the aftermath of extreme distress is stunning: “God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed.” It ought to inspire us to recognize that God is God and we are not.
The prayer that springs from Job’s lips foreshadows Peter’s words in his first letter, written thousands of years later: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Indeed, Job humbled himself “under God’s mighty hand”. In doing so, God gave him a revelation of his supremacy and at the end of the story, God restored all that had been ripped away from Job.
"Now I believe in the love
that you gave me.
I believe in the faith
that could save me.
I believe in the hope &
pray that some day it will
raise me above these
Badlands . . ."
In times of adversity, do we turn to God in faith or in recognition of our helplessness?
Mystery & Majesty
To pray while in despair is an act of faith; to be crushed, and respond by submitting to the mysterious nature of God is a courageous step of faith, and when taken, it changes us.
Remember, Job was not privy to the bargain struck between God and Satan. In chapter one the reader is presented a scene in which God gives Satan permission to do whatever he wanted to do with Job.
This can be troublesome imagery that is problematic; it raises issues that set off debates on the nature of God. However, when all our philosophical and intellectual wanderings are exhausted, the primal question remains: Do we acknowledge that God is God and we are not?
Job’s example is our guide. All Job knew was the pain of loss and the empty hopelessness of sorrow; in the reality of his faith he had nowhere else to go but to God. In helpless surrender, Job trusted God. Just so, our understanding of faith is incrementally advanced as realization settles in that we have nowhere else to go but to God; faith develops as it is increasingly placed in the One who spoke the universe into existence.
We are never aware of what transpires in the heavenlies; we grope around with linguistics in attempts to explain the unexplainable. God is, and we are endlessly invited to trust him.
The phraseology we use to define and describe the supernatural spiritual realm is woefully inadequate. Faith embraces mystery and majesty that can’t be easily boxed up in human comprehension.
Friends came alongside Job. At the outset, they grieved in silence with him, but then offered false theology and futile counsel. Their reasoning provided no comfort or comprehension. Cloaked in desperation, Job demanded a face-to-face with God, which appalled his companions.
Job dismissed their advice as he sought answers. From out of a storm, the LORD spoke in a forthright directness that remains riveting today. God’s soliloquy pealed back multiple layers of his sovereignty to reveal the totality of humanity’s ignorance.
Job’s attitude in chapter one was formative to the powerful work of God, which transformed his perspective. His bended knee worship was fertile soil for the seeds of faith to be cultivated by the Master.
What Job expressed by faith in the sheer darkness of tragedy, he saw by faith in the bright light of God’s revelation. His words in chapter forty-two expresses the humility we all must nurture in relationship to our Maker.
Job 42:1-6 - The Message
Job answered God: “I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I'm sorry—forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise! I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
My Father and my God, in the good times and bad times of my life, help me to keep focused on the truth of who you are and who I am. May I be ever mindful of your mystery and majesty, and may the attitude of my heart be continually open to the transforming touch of your hand. Amen.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
- What's Up With The Genesis Promise?
Abram came to be known as Abraham, but in our initial introduction to him he is Abram, son of Terah. When we meet him he is living in Haran and had already put many miles behind him; he had seen three quarters of a century pass . . .
- Love, Theft, 9/11 and Bob Dylan
According to Newsweek, Dylan's 2001 album Love and Theft was the second best album of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Newsweeks judgment is fine, though in my opinion . . .
- What's Up With Spiritual Wealth?
In November 2006, I was sitting at the airport in Delhi, India. It was hot and sticky with lots of flies buzzing around in small swarms. Exhaustion had its grip on me, but was being nipped at by an undercurrent . . .