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‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’

slater-troy-religion-hdr-kSome of the most faith-filled words recorded in Holy Scripture have got to be the words spoken by the Old Testament figure of Job. Job was a wealthy, “God-fearing” man who is described in Job 1:3 as “the greatest man among all the peoples of the East.” He and his wife had seven sons and three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys, plus a large number of servants. Yes, Job had been greatly blessed by God.

But, when the Lord gave permission to Satan to test Job, suddenly all of Job’s vast wealth and even his children were tragically taken away. And with the news of his children’s deaths still ringing in his ear, Job responded with those faith-filled words: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord …” (1:21)

It’s easy to bless (i.e. “thank”) the Lord when life is going well, isn’t it? It’s easy to thank Him when He gives – when we have a bountiful harvest season or a new child or grandchild is born. It’s easy to shout “Hallelujah!” when the markets rise or the rains come, when a feared tragedy is avoided or the disease is healed. When He blesses us with a land of abundance, it’s easy to sing our praises to God or to set aside a day or a season to give thanks to Him. Yes, it’s easy to “bless the name of the Lord” when He gives.

But it’s not so easy to “bless the name of the Lord” when He takes away, is it? When the harvest disappoints, the child strays, the markets sink, the rains dry up, a tragedy strikes, or the disease ends in death. Yes, it’s not so easy to join with Job in blessing the name of the Lord when He takes away.

And so for that reason, I think we can learn a lot from Job and his great faith. Although having said that, I would contend that it wasn’t so much that Job had such a great faith that enabled him to bless the name of the Lord in the moments immediately following his devastating losses. Rather, it was the Lord in whom he trusted. After all, faith is only as great or as strong as the object of that faith. And so it wasn’t so much that Job had a great faith that enabled him to bless the Lord, it was that he had a great God. This may be, in fact, the lesson we could probably all learn from Job.

The complete story is in the Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 Richmond News.

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