Well, today was day one in our efforts to read through the Bible in 90 days. Our reading was Genesis chapters 1-11 and Job chapters 1-5. Following our SOAP formula, I'm supposed to pick out a verse that stood out or spoke to me. There were a couple of them.
First, Genesis 1:1 always gets me. "In the beginning, God..." There is just so much power and meaning in those four little words. They are the foundation of the entire Bible, the basis of all our faith. In the beginning, God: was, existed, created the entire universe, saw the time when His own Son would become the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, saw me, knew me, and loved me. He was the Alpha and the Omega even before the beginning! It makes logical sense for the Bible to begin with the account of the creation of the world, but more than that, I think there's even greater meaning to why the Bible begins with those first four words. Because without "In the beginning, God..." nothing else matters at all.
I just love those words. I love the incredible promise contained within them. Praise the Lord that God was there even before the beginning!
The other verse that caught my attention was Job 1:22: "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." For the sake of clarification, here is the "this" verse 22 refers to:
Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 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." 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." 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." 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, 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." 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. Job 1:13-21 (ESV)So, Job lost all his livestock and all his children on the same day, one report of bad news coming right on the heels of the last one and what did he do? He grieved, certainly. He tore his clothes and shaved his head in agony. But then he fell on the ground and worshiped God! He didn't get mad at God. He didn't blame God. He didn't stomp his feet and shout to the heavens, demanding to know why so much grief had been poured over him. He simply worshiped God. He immediately recognized and vocalized the truth that God is the source of all our blessings and it is in His hands how long we are allowed to keep them. Though the words are not said here, I can only believe that Job knew and believed with all his heart that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (ESV)
I wish I could say I've had that kind of trust and faith all my life. I haven't. I spent a lot of years after the death of my mother being miffed that God had taken her from me. I wanted to know why. And even after I finally found peace with that, I have had moments when I again found myself questioning God's wisdom and reasoning. Losing people we love is never easy. Even when we know they've made professions of salvation, when we believe they are gone to be in the presence of the Lord, letting go is always painful for us. The years have taught me to trust God, to rely on His strength to carry me through the hard times. Still, though I have learned to trust Him, I don't know that I could be as devoted as Job was if I lost as much as he did.
All of us who have been Christians for a while know Job's story. We know it got even worse after this, but that he remained faithful through it all, and that in the end, his faithfulness was greatly rewarded. There are all kinds of lessons to be learned from Job, which is precisely why God chose to include his story in the Bible. But I wonder how many of us really try to put ourselves in his place? How many of us take the time to try to imagine how overwhelming his grief must have been. I'm not a mother. I can't conceive of what it would be like to lose a child. But I have friends who have lost children. I know that no matter how many years pass, they still grieve for that child. No matter how many other children they have, there is always a place that cannot be filled. So imagine not losing one child, but losing 10 at one time. All your children just... gone. I imagine the loss of his livestock - which was substantial - didn't hold a candle to the loss of his children.
Now, try to imagine how you would react. Do you think you would praise God? Do you think you could? Could you utter the words, "blessed be the name of the Lord?" Or do you think you'd get stuck thinking about how unfair it was? Do you think you'd wind up looking at God and demanding that He explain just why He would allow you to suffer such intense pain?
Lord, I pray that you would give me strength and courage. That you would shore up my trust in You and erase any doubts that might still linger. Fill me with Your grace and wisdom so that I can face whatever comes with peace in my heart and praises for You on my lips. Amen.
God is so GOOD!!!