When Life Falls Apart
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
When bad things happen, most of us want to know why. When times are good, we thank God, but when life falls apart, we want a reason. We like formulaic answers, so we may turn to passages that suggest blessing stems from good behavior and trials from bad (Deuteronomy 11:13-17).
Sometimes this is the case. In my addiction, my consequences were an obvious result of my destructive behavior. Often though, as with Job, there is no apparent reason. The book of Job then, speaks of how I should respond to trials, particularly when I don’t understand. The answer may not be as formulaic as I like, but nonetheless, Job suffered greatly and still responded rightly.
In the story, God and Satan had a cosmic contest in which, unbeknownst to Job, he was the center of the conflict. God was proud of Job’s faith, but Satan countered that Job was faithful only because God blessed him. Satan insisted that if Job suffered, he would curse God.
God consented to the challenge and Job experienced an epic bad day. First, a messenger told him his oxen and donkeys had been stolen. Then another servant arrived with news that his sheep had been consumed by fire from heaven. Next, it was his camels. A final messenger reported that Job’s children had all been killed.
Though Job went on to question why, his initial response was the correct one. In his misery, he did not pretend that he was not miserable. He tore his clothes and shaved his head. What he said next though stands as an example to me when I do not understand, The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
We are not guaranteed to know why and God is not obligated to explain. Job never learned of Satan’s test. Whether we endure blessing or trials does not change our relationship to God. He is the creator and we are the created. We can be sorrowful, and we can question, but in our pain, we would do well to assume the same posture as Job. No matter what happens, I will worship you, God.