Job and His Family
1Many years ago, a man named Job lived in the land of Uz. He was a truly good person, who respected God and refused to do evil.
2Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters. 3He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 pair of oxen, 500 donkeys, and a large number of servants. He was the richest person in the East.
4Job's sons took turns having feasts in their homes, and they always invited their three sisters to join in the eating and drinking. 5After each feast, Job would send for his children and perform a ceremony, as a way of asking God to forgive them of any wrongs they may have done. He would get up early the next morning and offer a sacrifice for each of them, just in case they had sinned or silently cursed God.
Angels, the Lord,
6 One day, when the angels had gathered around the Lord, and Satan was there with them, 7the Lord asked, “Satan, where have you been?”
Satan replied, “I have been going all over the earth.”
8Then the Lord asked, “What do you think of my servant Job? No one on earth is like him—he is a truly good person, who respects me and refuses to do evil.”
9 “Why shouldn't he respect you?” Satan remarked. 10“You are like a wall protecting not only him, but his entire family and all his property. You make him successful in whatever he does, and his flocks and herds are everywhere. 11Try taking away everything he owns, and he will curse you to your face.”
12The Lord replied, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, but don't harm Job.”
Then Satan left.
Job Loses Everything
13Job's sons and daughters were having a feast in the home of his oldest son, 14when someone rushed up to Job and said, “While your servants were plowing with your oxen, and your donkeys were nearby eating grass, 15a gang of Sabeans attacked and stole the oxen and donkeys! Your other servants were killed, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
16That servant was still speaking, when a second one came running and said, “God sent down a fire that killed your sheep and your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
17Before that servant finished speaking, a third one raced up and said, “Three gangs of Chaldeans attacked and stole your camels! All of your other servants were killed, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
18That servant was still speaking, when a fourth one dashed up and said, “Your children were having a feast and drinking wine at the home of your oldest son, 19when suddenly a windstorm from the desert blew the house down, crushing all of your children. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
20When Job heard this, he tore his clothes and shaved his head because of his great sorrow. He knelt on the ground, then worshiped God 21 and said:
“We bring nothing at birth;
we take nothing
with us at death.
The Lord alone gives and takes.
Praise the name of the Lord!”
22In spite of everything, Job did not sin or accuse God of doing wrong.
Have you ever commended someone for having “the patience of Job”? It’s curious how that expression developed when the story is not at all about Job being patient. Rather, it’s through his suffering and consequent impatient questioning of God and his friends, that Job’s relationship with God deepens. He discovers that his creator is not only much more majestic and powerful than he had ever imagined but is also a personal God who sees him, listens to him and speaks with him.
The first scene in this drama is a conversation in Heaven which provides for us—although not for Job—an understanding of why he suffers.
God declares that Job is a man of faith and integrity. The Hebrew words for upright and blameless do not suggest he was sinless, but rather a man of good character, with a pure heart. Satan then taunts God’s confidence in Job claiming, “He is only an upright man because you have given him great wealth. Take it all away and he will curse you to your face.”
Satan’s accusation might be right about many others, then and now. But he was wrong about Job. Job grieves deeply when his family and his possessions are all gone, but remains steadfast in his praise of God who is the source of everything he has.
Would we? How easy it is for us to praise God in the midst of a comfortable life, but when circumstances change, does our praise turn to complaint? What happens to our reverence for God when those “good things” evaporate?
Do we love God or only what God gives us?
The story of Job challenges us to ponder that question. Sometimes we need to be in a desperate place to discover how important our relationship with God really is.
Lord God, you are the source of everything including life itself. Help me to look beyond the trappings of this life, however good or difficult they may be, and see you, love you, worship you, honour and praise you. May even the unwelcome circumstances of each day draw me closer to you. Amen.