Job. Responding to Loss

Job 1:20-22 Then 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. (ESV)

We come to the end of the first chapter of Job. Job went from being the wealthiest man in his part of the world to the poorest. It took one day. In four separate catastrophies, Job has lost his worldly goods, means of production and transportation, and his children. I don’t know about you, but that would send me to my bed with my covers over my head. The NLT tranlation of verse 21 quotes Job, “Praise the name of the Lord!”. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t say that in a moment of despair I was praising God. This is the point where we say “Why me?”. Why is this happening to me (my child, my friend, my spouse, my family member)? Maybe it’s the surprise of it all. Tragedy is not expected. I like to believe most of us are more optimistic about life. We’re not expecting a poor diagnosis, an accident, or a child with a disability. It wasn’t in our plan.

So here’s Job. The Bible says Job didn’t sin or blame God in this moment of tragedy. That’s a miracle in itself. Job is a man of faith. He is trusting God in the midst of unbearable pain and loss. In contrast, am I alone in thinking I might not handle this so well? But God. God is our help in less than ideal circumstances, and there is hope for those of us who might find ourselves asking God why.

Romans 3:21-24 (NLT) “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

God tells us there is hope for us through His Son. God knows we are sinners, every one of us. He knows us, He loves us, and He has provided a way for us to have a right relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus.

Lord, thank you for Your daily grace and mercy. I pray that when faced with tragedy and loss that we turn to You, our comforter and redeemer. Forgive us as we make our way imperfectly through life. Thank you for Your gift of salvation. Thank you for loving us, even though we don’t deserve it, nor can we earn it. You give Your love freely and without strings attached. Amen.

Note: I encourage you as you study to read multiple translations of the Bible. I am gaining so much personally as I write by reading several translations of the same verse. For instance, writing today’s entry, I discovered that Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 are very similar (almost word for word in the beginning verses). I also discovered The Complete Jewish Bible for another perspective of the verses in Romans. I frequently use biblegateway.com as it is an easy way to move among verses and chapters as well as multiple translations.

Job loses it all.

Job 1:13-19 (ESV) 13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, 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, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

If we look back at Job 1:1-3, we find a listing of the wealth of Job. In today’s passage, God allows Satan to come and take all of that wealth away. In one day, Job gets the news from a single survivor of four separate tragedies. Job’s livestock, means of making a living, transportation, and finally, his children are wiped from the earth. Maybe one of the reasons I’ve read this book more than once is the enormity of Job’s suffering. My own suffering pales in comparison. Not that our suffering is not worthy of compassion, empathy, and understanding, but it is a reminder that my troubles on earth are not unique.

Lord, When I or a loved one find themselves in dire straits, please remind us that You are there with us. Let us pray with the Psalmist in Psalm 71: 1-3 (NIV) “In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” Amen and Amen.

Job. He is Being Watched

Job 1:6-11 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (NLT)

In my last post, I wrote about verse 6 and Satan, our accuser. As the Book of Job continues, God and Satan are having a conversation about Job. God points out Job as someone that cannot be swayed by evil. I don’t think I would want to be pointed out to Satan! I would prefer to be flying under the radar. For his part, Satan’s belief is that the only reason Job tries to do what’s right is that God has had Job’s back. Job’s life is going along really well in all aspects, so Satan’s reply is basically – Why wouldn’t Job do what is right? You’ve given Job everything on a silver platter! Anyone who “has it all” can follow God. Satan’s last sentence here is a challenge to us mortals (me). What happens when we lose something dear to us – wealth, family, career, possessions? Do we blame God and turn away from Him?

In 1 Peter 5:18 (ESV), Peter is telling his fellow Christ-followers and leaders in the faith to hold fast through their sufferings. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” What we experience in this life is common to all and to be expected. God is not surprised by what transpires, good or bad but He is waiting for our response to our life circumstances. Do I become bitter in the midst of trials or do I turn to God, knowing that He loves me, no matter the circumstances? The good news in all of this is that God loves us. No matter if we handle our circumstances well or with trepidation, He desires that we turn to Him and seek His will and His love.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lord, Thank you for loving us – no matter what. Our circumstances may look bleak and our choices may condemn us, and yet Your love for us never changes. We can’t understand it, but we praise You for it. Amen.

Job and the Accuser

Job 1:6 (NLT) One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.

In Job 1:6 the Lord is King and His court is surrounding Him. Satan, the fallen angel, is there as well. In the New Living Translation, the word accuser is used to describe Satan. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Satan, defines Satan for us in this manner, “1: the angel who in Jewish belief is commanded by God to tempt humans to sin, to accuse the sinners, and to carry out God’s punishment 2: the rebellious angel who in Christian belief is the adversary of God and lord of evil”. The fact that Satan is with God is important. God allows Satan to be present in His heavenly court among the “good” angels.

Jesus does the same during his earthly ministry. Jesus is often questioned about His choice of friends and acquaintances. If you’ve been in Sunday School as a child, you know the story of Zacchaeus found in Luke 19:1-10 (and the song as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq-HA5arHYw. You’re welcome!). Zacchaeus was a tax collector and despised by all, not unlike tax collectors today. Tax collectors back then not only collected taxes but would charge people a little extra for themselves. This is how Zacchaeus had built his wealth. Jesus spots Zacchaeus in the tree Zacchaeus has climbed in order to see Jesus better. (He’s a wee little man per the song.) Jesus, much to the astonishment of the surrounding crowd, invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home to visit. That Jesus would ask to come into the home of a known sinner is beyond the pale for the God-fearing people who’ve come to see this man who is creating a stir throughout the country with His teaching and healing. While the crowd is complaining about Jesus’ choice of company, Jesus’ act of kindness is life-changing for Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus renounces his sin and vows to give half of his wealth to the poor and to repay the people he’s cheated by fourfold. Here’s how the story ends in Luke 19, Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (NIV)

God allowed Satan, the Accuser, to be in attendance in His court. Jesus invited Himself into the presence of a known sinner. It is humbling to know that no matter what we’ve done, God desires a relationship with us. No sin is too big to keep Him from searching us out and offering us forgiveness and the opportunity to be with Him for eternity.

Lord, Thank you for loving us no matter what. We desire that kind of love that only You can offer in Your goodness and mercy. Remind me today that Your love is all I need. Amen.

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Job. A Parent’s Job Never Ends

Job 1:4-5 ‘4 Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.’

Have you ever felt like your job as a parent is never-ending? I know I have felt that. My children are grown, married, have homes, families, and careers. Yet they still (thankfully!) are in touch, and sometimes, even seek my counsel. We enjoy one another’s company. Do I think of them and pray regularly for their families? You bet.

This is where we find Job. Job’s sons are enjoying their friends and families and include their sisters in their reveling. We don’t know what these days long feasts consist of, but we know Job, our man of complete integrity, has concerns. Job offers prayers and burnt offerings. I did a Google search for this practice of burnt offerings and found the Jewish Virtual Library (1998-2020) at https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/sacrifices-and-offerings-karbanot. After reading this page, I believe (and please enlighten me if I’m wrong!) that Job is offering a chatat. “A sin offering is an offering to atone for and purge a sin. It is an expression of sorrow for the error and a desire to be reconciled with G-d. The Hebrew term for this type of offering is chatat, from the word chayt, meaning “missing the mark.” A chatat could only be offered for unintentional sins committed through carelessness, not for intentional, malicious sins. The size of the offering varied according to the nature of the sin and the financial means of the sinner. Some chatatot are individual and some are communal. Communal offerings represent the interdependence of the community, and the fact that we are all responsible for each others’ sins. ”

Maybe Job has heard rumors about what might be happening at these feasts. People talk. Maybe he remembers attending feasts or even participating in less-than-ideal circumstances himself. Whatever the reason, Job is covering his children in prayer.

As a parent, I’m not offering up burnt offerings, but I am praying for the health, wisdom, and well-being of my children and grandchildren! Can you relate? Especially during this time of pandemic, I am more than concerned that we remain healthy and able to do work we love and that supports our families. I love that this prayer is Job’s regular practice. He doesn’t find himself too busy or distracted to remember to pray.

Lord, Remind me that You want to hear from me regularly. My concerns are Your concerns and the conversation between us is effective and wanted by You. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Job. Great wealth.

Job 1:1-3 “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.” (NLT)

The stage is set. Job is a wealthy man in children, livestock, and servants. He had plenty of food and plenty of people to assist him in creating wealth. With all those children, we assume he has a wife who will show up at some point. More importantly, the first thing we learn about Job is that he is a “man of complete integrity”. Who among us can say we completely stay away from evil? (God’s definition of evil, not my own!) God’s Word tell us we all have sinned. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NLT)

Later in the Bible (Matthew 19:16-22), a rich, young man comes to Jesus and wants to know how to get to heaven. Jesus tells him to follow the commandments. When the man replies that he does that already (oops. None of us is perfect, except Christ.), Jesus tells the man to give away all he has acquired and follow Him. The young man sadly leaves the conversation, because he has so much earthly wealth. We can assume he wasn’t about to give away his possessions and cushy life. Maybe this is what captures our attention about Job. Somehow, by the grace of God, Job manages to keep his eyes fixed on his Creator, even though he has been blessed with much on earth.

Lord, Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You, amidst the turmoil of life and the earthly wealth you’ve provided. Show me what Your good and perfect will is for my life.

Psalm 19:14 (ESV) “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Job with a Long /o/

Job from the Bible is pronounced with a long /o/ sound. I was wondering why, so I did a quick Google search and found the website https://www.behindthename.com/name/job. Behind the Name (2019) has this to tell us about Job. “From the Hebrew name אִיּוֹב (‘Iyyov), which means “persecuted, hated”. In the Book of Job in the Old Testament he is a righteous man who is tested by God, enduring many tragedies and hardships while struggling to remain faithful.” Would you believe that the name Job is popular in the Netherlands? According to this website, Job has been in the top 100 names for the past five years! In the U.S., Job hasn’t been popular since the 1890s.

Well, let’s be honest. Job isn’t the first book of the Bible most of us turn to when we want some wisdom or comfort. Job had it pretty rough. Spoiler alert: It all ends well, at least for Job, but for those around him – not so much. So why would I be reading and then begin a blog with Job? First, God lead me to read Job (again). It seems random. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Shouldn’t I be reading some Psalms? They’re comforting and my go-to book when in doubt or despair. Second, once I started reading, God reminded me of this unused WordPress site. I enjoy writing but just never knew what to write here. I live a pretty mundane life, in my eyes at least. I do what everyone does – work, chores, shopping, watching tv, surfing the web, and lots of reading. Not much to see here. But God. God has something to say and asked me to consider and share. I hope you’ll join the conversation, but I will leave that up to you and God.

Here I am at last.

I’ve had this account for years. I don’t even know how many. I’ve not written anything until now. Has anyone else had this experience? Writer’s block before taking the first step? Being a perfectionist can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I am careful and diligent. On the other hand, I get completely immobilized. I don’t want to make a mistake. I can’t make a decision, in case it’s the wrong one. I just can’t get started.

But God. I love those words. So many things in the Bible and in my life seem impossible. Then God shows up and says “Let’s do this”. Do this thing that you’re afraid to do. Do this thing you don’t know how to do. Do this thing you never in your wildest dreams imagined yourself doing. Examples: I’ve been on a children’s ministry team as the preschool lead. Absolutely didn’t see that one coming. (I wasn’t even a member of the church. When the pastor found that out he said “How did you get here?”. Hey-God had this person chase me down at Target and later at Long John Silver’s. What could I say?) After my husband had a brain hemorrhage at the age of 47 (completely random and no idea why), I went back to college and got my teaching degree. After five years of teaching in an elementary school and looking for a new career, God stepped in and here I am – a special education teacher that required another three and a half years getting a master’s degree. I love it.

With the exception of being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years, teaching children with different needs is the most satisfying, terrifying, and rewarding career I’ve had so far. God knows where I’m needed and leads me to those places. I ask, I pray, read His word, listen, and He leads. He hasn’t failed me yet, nor do I expect Him too. He is leading me to write. So let the journey begin.

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