Saturday, April 25, 2020

Count your blessings

I've quoted from Ben Patterson's Waiting before. This is from the first chapter concerning Job.
Of what was Job made? What did he do when his life collapsed around him? The Scripture says he "got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. 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'" (Job 1:20-21). Those few words sum up what this man Job was made of. He had a perspective that held him together when the unthinkable struck.

Part of that right perspective was how Job understood himself. He was very clear on who he was before God. When he learned that he was stripped of just about everything that makes for happiness in this life, the first words out of his mouth were, "Naked I came from my mother's womb." Naked! Job was saying, "I had nothing when I arrived on this planet, and I will have nothing when I leave it. Everything I have lost was not in my possession when I was born, and it would not have been in my possession when I die. My nakedness is a dress rehearsal of my death, a remembrance of my birth. In the end it will have gone full circle, and I will be back where I started: naked and helpless, with nothing and no one but God." ....

Job suffers greatly. But he has not added to his suffering by believing that his rights have been violated, that his loss is a great miscarriage of justice. He knows he has no right to protest losing anything—for nothing he had was his! It is enough simply to suffer loss; that alone is a burden sufficient to tax the strength of the strongest. We make it intolerable when we add to it the weight of resentment and injured pride.

Job had a unique clarity about himself as a human being which was grounded in his perspective on God. He was equally clear about who God is. Of God, he said, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away." The children, the house, the health, the wealth—Job knew that all of it had been given to him by God. They were gifts. They were not things he earned for himself or achieved by his own efforts and skill. ....

With that perspective, we can express gratitude even from the depths of sorrow. Note that the first thing Job said when he was informed of his losses was not that God had taken from him, but that God had given to him! Job, at the very point where God had taken from him, acknowledged that it was the Lord who had first given what he then took. Job was thankful even in great loss. How could he be bitter at God for removing something that was not his in the first place? He could, however, be thankful that God had once given it. Job's belief that God—even the God who takes—is generous and kind beyond measure imparted to Job an extraordinary grace and poise amidst his suffering and waiting. ....
Ben Patterson, Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent, InterVarsity Press, 1989.

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