Imagine that your neighbor calls you at work, telling you the terrible news that your house and vehicles have been destroyed by fire, and while that person is still speaking, you learn that you’ve been fired from your job. While those words are still coming out of your employer’s mouth, your husband calls: your kids and all their families have been killed while they were vacationing together.
These are the unimaginable circumstances Job encountered. Devastating messages assaulted him again and again—each one coming while the messenger “was still speaking” (vs. 16–18). Who can even begin to comprehend his sheer horror at learning that all ten of his children were dead?
What did Job do? What was his initial response upon hearing of the loss of all he owned and of all he held dear? First, he grieved. He physically responded in the Eastern mode of grief by tearing his robe and shaving his head to display his deep sorrow. Yet no outward sign of grief could capture the inward torture Job felt.
Job’s next step demonstrates faithfulness toward God. He fell to the ground and worshiped. That’s right—he didn’t berate God or ask “Why me?” or “Why them?” Instead, he acknowledged that everything comes from God, and he praised the name of the Lord. Try envisioning that scene. It will take your breath away. Picture this man, deep in the throes of grief, praising God. In light of the horrific blows dealt to him, how did he do that?
Only one answer suffices: Job knew God—really knew him with an uncommon intimacy. His close communion with God had taught him that God was the only one who could give him any kind of real comfort. Job’s knowledge yielded a deep trust in an infallible Lord—a trust that enabled Job’s heart to keep beating even in the face of overwhelming heartbreak. It enabled him to respond to horrible pain with worship and praise.
Yes, times of seeking for answers and grappling for understanding followed that day of destruction, but Job’s initial response reflected a heart that knew and trusted God. What an amazing and beautiful image!
How have you responded to bad news in the past? With praise? Anger? Despair? Confusion?
Job knew God well enough to turn to him in grief. How deep does your knowledge of God go? How close is your heart attuned to his?
How might going through tough times or experiencing pain and grief help someone know God?
Job 1:20–21 Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”