The God We Got – Job 1:1-22
‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ (Job 1:21b).
These words from the tragic and mysterious story of Job form the basis of a well-loved worship song which you may well have sung. ‘You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be you name’. Many years ago, I had suffered a great personal loss. I’ll never forget sitting in worship as this song began. The tears which had welled up in my eyes began rolling down my face and I was powerless to stop them. What sort of a God was this, who would give us such joy (the news of a much longed-for pregnancy), only to take it away so cruelly? It was not the first time this had happened to us and I felt myself sliding into another deep sadness.
I wondered about Job, a fellow traveler from long ago who had suffered so greatly and lost on a far greater scale than me. What did we have in common?
A turning point came in seeing that there is a lot more to his story than his ‘nice Christian’ response in chapter one. There follow nineteen more chapters where his feelings (perhaps by then having ‘thawed out’) come out in torrents. There are not so many worship songs based on those chapters of anguish and lament. Perhaps there needs to be! My healing began when I was able to express my own torrent of emotion out to the God of Job. I came to see my anger as an expression of trust. I believed he existed. I wanted to engage with and stay in relationship with Him and wrestle through these hard issues together. If God was big enough to handle Job’s anger (and even commend him for ‘speaking rightly’), then he could certainly handle mine.
What sort of God do we have? For all the images of him as our gentle Father, at times he shows himself to be a God of mystery and silence. God refuses to shape our world the way we would like it and act as we hope he will. But when life takes a dark turn and our feelings toward him are shaky and disintegrating, his hold on us is unshakably strong. The God we got is One whose grace and mercy will hold us through the torrents of rage and the longest nights.
Lord we long for the day when suffering will be overcome and what has been lost will be restored. Thankyou that the truth of your love is not altered by the changeable strength of our feelings for you. When our suffering renders us incapable of choosing to praise, you welcome our questions and our longing for something better. Come Lord Jesus, come.