[Job] said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’
Job 1:21 (NIV)
Read: Job 1:1-22; Psalm 112
Consider: The story of Job is of a man who seemed to have everything (material wealth, prestige, family). He was very wealthy and was very highly regarded in society. We are told in Job 1 that over a very short space of time he lost his wealth (oxen, donkeys, sheep and camels), together with his family (sons and daughters). His response is extraordinary in that even in his dire circumstances he was able to say: ‘… may the name of the LORD be praised’ (v21).
Reading on in Job (in chapter 2) we see the next episode in Job’s life was for him to lose his health (Job 2:7). Even at this stage his response to his wife’s statement (2:9) is thoughtful and measured – ‘Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?’ In all this Job did not sin in what he said’ (2:10).
Reading about Job and his response took me back to a post based on Psalm 112 (first published on 8th December 2016), under the title ‘No fear of bad news’. The post is reproduced below in its entirety as it sums up Job’s response and shows us how we can deal with unexpected events occurring in our lives.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes (Psalm 112:6-8).
Most of us wish that we would only receive good news, yet we know that life can be very unpredictable and sometimes chaotic. Things can be going along well, when suddenly something happens that has the potential to shake us to the core.
The psalmist in Psalm 112 lays before us a fundamental truth that sometimes we forget in the heat of the moment. Look again at what is said: ‘They will have no fear of bad news’. It does not say ‘They will have no bad news’. The psalmist realised that it is not the bad news that is the defining feature of a life of faith, it is our response to it.
Let’s be honest, bad news can have a negative effect on us all. However, the psalmist isn’t talking about your initial reaction, or even that gnawing feeling you may have in the pit of your stomach. The fear envisaged here is one that debilitates, or even knocks your confidence to the point that you turn away from God.
The psalmist uses words like ‘never be shaken’, ‘steadfast’ and ‘secure’ to convey the confidence that a person can have in God during difficult times. The world sees this as being unrealistic, but in Christ it is seen as the ‘peace that passes understanding’. It cannot be explained in purely human terms, but is nonetheless very real and tangible. This peace doesn’t deny that the news may be bad, but acknowledges that God’s hand is at work in your life whatever the outcome.
There is another implication of what the psalmist is saying. The world puts its confidence in health, wealth and status, but for those who put their trust in Christ their confidence is in God. For the Christian their trust and security does not come from material things, but from a knowledge of what God has achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
May our response to difficulties be that of Job who could say ‘… may the name of the LORD be praised’
Pray: Father, may we not put our trust in material things, but only in you. Keep us steadfast in our faith, even when bad news comes. Amen