April 3, 2020
Life Lessons from an Ash Heap
By Skip Heitzig
If there's one man in the Old Testament anyone would agree had a really rotten day, it's Job. In fact, he had the worst possible day of anyone I've ever heard. The Bible tells us Job was wealthy. He had ten children and a multitude of livestock. Not only that, but he was also Mr. Godly; God Himself bragged about him (see Job 1:8).
But in Job 1, we read about four rapid-fire disasters that took away everything Job loved and owned: his children, his wealth, and nearly all of his servants. This is why Job's story tends to bother Christians so much. Here was this godly man—a man who hated evil and loved good—reduced to ashes. Everything that could've gone wrong in his life did. And what was his response?
"Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.' In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong" (vv. 20-22).
Job was an incredibly godly man, yet he still suffered immensely. You need to realize there's no guarantee that when you follow Christ, He's going to take away all your problems and protect you from pain. Being godly doesn't mean you're immune to the suffering and troubles of this world.
Look more closely at Job's response: he "arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head" (v. 20)—all signs of mourning. Job wasn't some emotionally aloof individual. His first reaction was to grieve. We need to allow people—including ourselves—to grieve when we go through hardships. It's a part of life, perhaps more so at this point in time than some of us have ever experienced before. Even so, there are three things we can learn from Job's story:
1. Our grasp must be light. Like Job said, we came into this world with nothing, and we'll leave this world with nothing. So have a loose grip on the things of this world. As Paul wrote, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).
2. Our God must be enthroned. Job recognized that God is sovereign—in complete control of all circumstances. In times of suffering, how many of us are able to say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord"? That's rare—but that's worship. Worship is the act of placing God above everyone and everything else in life.
3. Our goal must be submission. We need to take our rightful place before the Lord. A better translation of verse 22 would be: "Job didn't sin by blaming God for the calamity." Job didn't have a rational or even a theological explanation for his suffering, but he still trusted and worshiped God. If Job was able to do that, we can during this time, too.
We may never know while we're here on this earth why certain things happen to us. But we do know God is always on the throne. So may we never trade in what we do know for the things we don't yet know.