Job, a good and righteous man, has been accused in the heavenlies by Satan. Satan’s claim is that Job is a hypocrite who only appears religious as a result of the many blessings he is enjoying. Satan asks permission to afflict him so that God, and everyone else, will see that Job’s piety is false. Job is about to experience the ultimate bad day.
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[a] 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.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 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.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. ~Job 1:13-22
Four messengers come to Job, one after another. Two bring news of brutal enemy attacks upon his livestock and servants. The other two bring news of two natural disasters – a tremendous fire from heaven (probably a lightning storm) and what was likely a vicious tornado. By the end of the day, every possession Job owned as well as all of his ten children had been lost. Everything. Consider that.
His oxen, camel, and their drivers were all gone. Was God displeased with Job’s hard work and diligence regarding his livelihood? Job lost his means to support and provide for his family. Job became unemployed.
Also, Job’s sheep and Shepards were struck down. Could God be angry with Job’s honorable sacrifices? Job had no means by which he could make atonement for himself or his family now. Job had nothing to offer God.
Lastly, Job lost his beloved children. Had God not accepted his sincere daily prayers and sacrifices for them? Job became childless.
Surely, at this point Job had to be wondering what he had done wrong, second-guessing his every move and motive, and feeling quite insecure about his own standing with his heavenly father. Surely, even the best men would be asking what use it is to serve God. Surely, it is vain to serve a God who mercilessly crushes his best men this way, isn’t it?
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. ~Job 1:22
Surely not. “Discontent and impatience do in effect charge God with folly.” (Matthew Henry) It is mercy that crushes us. The same unfathomable mercy that crushed Jesus Christ for our sake crushes us for the sake of others. Apart from heat and forging, tools cannot be made strong. And we are all but tools in the hand of our maker. Every offense against us is an opportunity to extend grace. Extending grace to undeserving sinners is the act that most resembles Christ. Those who are called to endure the most opposition have the most opportunity to look like Jesus.
Job knows. Therefore, he doesn’t respond to the worst of all situations in despair, disrespect, or dereliction. Job worships the God who is crushing him. He continues to honor God. He affords God the right to take away as well as to give. Job proves his faith true in the face of Satan’s worst storms and accusations.
God may bring disaster. Look at Oklahoma. He may bring unemployment. He may cause us to be barren or ask us to bury children. No matter what calamity he allows, one thing is for sure – sheep or no sheep we have nothing to offer in exchange for a life of ease. No amount of piety, sacrifice, or holiness will keep us from hardship in this life. That should remind us how much nothing we’ve got to give in exchange for our souls as well.
God is the giver. He is the taker. We do nothing but receive. What we receive – good or bad – is solely up to him and is not always dependent upon our conduct. The response to his giving or his taking is to be one in the same – worship. Kudos to Job. Lord, help me respond like him that I might look like you.