Have you ever had a day that goes something like this:
You are trying to leave for work and the car won’t start despite your efforts to jump it. Great, you probably need a new battery (or worse!) and the bank account is already low. Next, you get a phone call from a loved one saying he’s just been diagnosed with a severe illness. That afternoon, you receive a large, unexpected bill in the mail and you wonder how you’re ever going to pay it. Then for the cherry on top, you get a scathing message from a friend (or so you thought) about something you did last week that offended him or her. Now your relationship is in conflict, but you don’t know when you will have the time or be in the right frame of mind to deal with it.
I am a homeschooling mom of 8 (10 years old and under), so for me that kind of a day would look something like this:
I am trying to start school after an already stressful late start to the day and pulling teeth to get the kids to finish their chores.
From the other room, I hear two of my kids screaming and yelling at each other and then the inevitable, “Mommy, he HIT me!!” wail.
As I go to extinguish that fire, I hear a panicked cry from the hallway, only to discover that my three-year-old has pooped in her pants.
As I hastily make the two fighters sit somewhere to wait for my return, the baby (who is now crawling and cruising) starts screaming because he bonked his head on the coffee table and also needs a nap.
Meanwhile, another child is getting frustrated in the schoolroom because she’s stuck on a problem and I’m not available to help.
And in the back of my mind, I know I don’t have anything planned for dinner yet.
On these days, I almost (and sometimes do) break down and wonder if one more thing could be added to my plate or go wrong. I wonder why God is doing this to me. Subconsciously, I am questioning the goodness and fairness of God’s decision.
As I began reading the book of Job again, the brick-piling effect of what happened in his life in Chapter 1 started to feel all too familiar. My mind started relating, “Oh my goodness! This is just like one of those days I’ve had where it’s just one thing after another!”
Let’s take a look at what happened to Job:
“Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
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.”
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.”
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, 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.” – Job 1:13-19
In reality, the problems I described about my day are nothing compared to what Job went through. Nor are the problems in the first scenario. Nobody died and your whole livelihood wasn’t lost in a moment (although there may be time that we are faced with such devastating news). Nonetheless, those problems are real. They may only be for a day, a week, or sometimes for a whole season, but we must face them.
So what lessons can we take away from Job’s response to his crisis? Remember, the Bible is not just a book of old stories; it is true and it has application for our lives today.
Let’s take a look at Job’s response:
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 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.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).
Here are 4 lessons we can take away from Job on our own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days:
1) It’s OK to mourn.
It’s OK to grieve over a devastating or heartbreaking loss. It’s okay to acknowledge that this is a stressful situation or that it feels like it’s more than we can bear. We don’t have to slap a smile on and pretend that everything is all right, nor should we.
In verse 20, Job “tore his robe and shaved his head”. In his time and culture, doing so was a sign that you were in mourning. We know that this is an acceptable response because verse 22 says that “in all this Job did not sin”. His mourning was not a self-focused pity party or angst-y sulking. He had emotions and he displayed them in a way that was appropriate to his situation. We, too, were created with real emotions and it’s okay to show them as long as it’s not a sinful expression.
2) Worship God in all circumstances.
Worship may be the last thing we feel like doing when we’re going through a hard time. But the Bible repeats this idea of praise, even during the storm, when it says things like:
“Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
It doesn’t say “rejoice sometimes”, or “bless the Lord only when you’re having a great day”; it says ALWAYS and AT ALL TIMES.
We can follow Job’s example that, although he was in mourning, he falls down on the ground and worships.
But why should we worship? The answer to that is next.
3) Trust the sovereignty and goodness of God.
The Bible tells us that God is in the heavens and does all that He pleases, that He will accomplish all His holy will, and that nothing can stay His hand.
The Bible also tells us that God is good and loving and just.
So how does that help us to worship?
When we understand that God is in control over everything and that he is also good (not some tyrannical being with all power), it makes a difficult pill easier to swallow. We can trust that whatever our day holds is exactly what God had planned for us that day. We may have had our own plans but God directs our steps. He knows exactly what we need to go through, even if it is a trial, and his ways are higher than our ways. We can trust that God has our best interests in mind (which also happens to be him receiving glory) AND that he has the power to accomplish it through our circumstances.
Nothing in our life is meaningless. There is no situation without point or purpose. All of the pieces to the puzzle of our lives are orchestrated by a sovereign, good God to either draw us to him (Acts 17:26-27) or to sanctify us, meaning to make us more like his perfect Son, Jesus, and less like our old sinful selves (Romans 8:28-29; 1 Thess. 4:3). And all of this brings God glory.
Job acknowledged that everything he had was from God, and everything he lost was a part of God’s good and perfect plan. There is no “Plan B” with God.
4) Don’t blame God.
This may seem like a contradictory statement after acknowledging that God is in control of everything, but the Bible is clear that God cannot do any evil or wrong:
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
“The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:17).
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4).
“For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45).
These verses are just the tip of the iceberg on God’s holiness. Since the Bible is clear about both the sovereignty of God AND the holiness of God, and the Bible never contradicts itself, we must reconcile these things in our minds.
Evil entered the world through our first parents’ (Adam and Eve) choice, which resulted in the breakdown of everything good that God had created (Romans 5:12).
Everything in creation was affected by that choice. We now live in a broken world. Things don’t function the way they were designed to. People still make sinful choices. But God still uses evil for good (Genesis 50:20) and none of God’s good purposes can be thwarted (Job 42:2).
And so just like Job, we can face all kinds of difficult and even painful circumstances and not accuse God of any kind of wrongdoing, evil, or ill will towards us. Just like Job, we can say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”!