Job had a hard road to walk for a time. If you’re Resting at the River’s Edge with us, this week you’ve read that Job was “blameless and upright; He feared God and shunned evil.” (1:1) He was also quite rich in love and material possessions. The Bible describes him as “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (1:3)

And then his world fell apart. All his material possessions were lost and his children were killed. Upon hearing the news of each of his losses, he responded like this:

At this, Job 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

Oh that I would always respond to all my challenges as Job did! Tearing his robe and shaving his head are a sign of mourning. Job was mourning the loss of his family and lifestyle. But in the midst of the mourning, he is also worshipping the Lord.

Having hope, as those of us who love the Lord do, doesn’t mean that we are impervious to life’s challenges, disappointments and disasters. It also doesn’t mean that we are somehow “above” emotions that are attached to such losses. We experience them just as our unbelieving neighbor does. What it means, however, is that in the midst of our pain, we have another perspective that we pull from the background to the foreground.

When life happens, it pushes itself to the foreground of our lives. It’s in our face, and it seeks to overpower all else. It requires our deliberate act of worship to put it back into its proper place, which is the background from which we live out our faith.

Put yourself into the scene of Job’s life: He hears the news of the loss of his property and the death of his children. It overwhelms him. He demonstrates his mourning by tearing his robe and shaving his head. And then he deliberately puts the things of this life into the background and brings the Lord front and center. He worships God. He falls to the ground in worship. He declares truth.

Do you think it was easy for Job to say “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.”? I can assure you that it was not. In his emotions, he was crying out in pain. Yet he still knew that the Lord was worthy of worship in the midst of all that life throws at us. He also knew that the way through the pain was to allow the Lord to take center stage in our life – to allow Him to become the foreground and redirect our pain to the background.

Did Job’s life miraculously and suddenly become good again? No, it did not. Did Job’s faith give him answers that satisfied his crying heart? No, it did not. And it may not do those things in our lives, either. God’s ways are beyond our understanding and He is not answerable to us.

When we allow this life to be the foreground from which we live, every bump and bruise, every break and tear, every shattered dream and lost hope, seeks to overwhelm us and take away our joy. But when we deliberately put God in the foreground, those bumps and bruises, those shattered dreams and lost hope are put into perspective. “The Lord gave,” Job said, “and the Lord has taken away.” “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

The Lord gave and I enjoyed it. I was blessed by the hand of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The Lord has taken away and I will miss it. I will grieve for it. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

In both, the Lord is sovereign. He is in control. We can have peace. We can have rest. My life is not spinning out of control. My life is in the hands of the sovereign God. Your life is not spinning out of control. Your life is in the hands of the sovereign God. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Friends, may I encourage you to live your life with God in the foreground and allow the things of this world to be the backdrop from which your faith and love of the Lord is displayed. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

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