>> 1.04.2011

This year, I decided to switch things up, and am currently reading through the Bible in chronological order.
This means that I'm getting to read events as they happened, rather than jumping back and forth between stories by going straight through the Bible. So, the first three days consisted of reading Genesis 1-11 (which covers Creation, the Fall of man, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel, and subsequent scattering of people around the earth). Today I started reading Job, who's story actually takes place before the birth of Abraham.

Although I've gone through it before, and I can tell you the basics, for some reason it hit me harder today. Here is a man, who, for all intents and purposes, is living his life in the most holy manner he knows. He is described as "blameless and upright", as well as the fact that he "feared God and shunned evil". He loved his children dearly, so much so that he would ensure that they went through the purification rites after they had a wild weekend with their friends, and he made burnt offerings for each of them (he had ten) just to make sure that they were pure before the Lord.

This is a man who clearly takes God's commandments seriously and desires to follow after Him with his whole heart.

And yet...

And yet. Satan comes to God after wandering around the world, and for some inexplicable reason, God draws his attention to Job. "Look at this guy," God says. "Look at how much he loves me and fears me. In fact, he obeys me so well, that there is no one else on earth who can even compare." That should give you some idea of just how much Job followed the Lord--when Satan came to God, Job is the one who was noticed, and Job is the one whom God said had no equal in his worship of the Lord.

Satan (which interestingly enough means the accuser, according to my footnotes) then taunts God, and Job, by saying that the only reason the human is doing so well is because God has protected him and blessed him.  Satan counters that if God struck Job, the human would turn around and curse him--that his holiness was only based on God's blessing.

God takes up the challenge, and has faith enough in Job to tell Satan to go ahead and give it his best shot.
So Satan does.

All of Job's wealth is stolen and destroyed.
All ten of his children are killed at once.
A mass amount of his servants die.
And still, Job's response is sinless.
"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship..."
Despite it all, Job worships the Lord.

So Satan comes back to God, and once again, God points out Job's holiness.
"...And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."
God freely admits that He was against Job, and allowed Job to be messed with. And He goes even further, after Satan says that Job will not worship God once harm is done to his physical person.
God allows Satan to harm Job physically, and to put him in as much misery as Satan wants, as long as he spares his life.

And this is what kills me.

Reading through this, Job simply sounds like a pawn in a game. The next image we get of the man is the most pitiful, heartbreaking thing you can imagine:

"So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes."

His friends come to see him, and they weep once they get a good look at him.
Here is a man who once had it all, and is now reduced to sitting in the dirt, cutting himself with broken pottery in an attempt to stem the physical pain he is feeling.


Why would God allow the most holy man in existence at that time to be reduced to this pitiful pile of festering flesh and bone?

The answer infuriates my very sinful human nature.

Because this life, and this world, is not about us.

God would make an example of one man, simply to show that His glory is more important than anything else.
Worshiping the Lord, who gave us life, is worth our lives.
And if He so chooses, God can do what He will with us in order to show that He is holy, and give an example of who He is.

That's part of the deal. 
It comes with being human.

Job's answer is the epitome of a man who realizes what life is truly about:
"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Too often we get caught up in how we feel, and how we're doing, and if we're being taken care of.
And although God blesses so many of us extraordinarily, and provides for us when we need it, and gives us what we ask for, that does not mean that He is obligated to.
We are His creation, not the other way around.
We belong to Him, and He can do with us what He will.

This is hard to accept, and there is something inside all of us that fights against it.
But it comes with the territory.
God owes me far more than I have been given, and has taken away so much that I deserve.
I am a disgraceful sinner, full of evil intent and wicked purpose.

And yet...
And yet. I have been given grace, and a hundredth chance, and blessings beyond what I can imagine.
God does not give us what we deserve.
He gives us everything we do not.

For that I will say:
 "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised."


*All scripture references belong to Job 1-3

1 thoughts:

Anonymous,  January 9, 2011 at 1:06 PM  

Hi, I found your blog because I tried to create a blog of the same name, so I wanted to see what you had to say. Just wanted to let you know that I think you're a wonderful writer. This post blew me away. Thanks so much. Karen in Paris

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