Read Job 1:13-21
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!” (NLT)
There are good days and there are bad days. Job was having a bad day! A sequence of catastrophic losses rendered him desperate, though interestingly it didn’t cause him to abandon God.
Job’s loss seems overwhelming and thankfully unique. We would rightly trust we would never suffer such a devastating series of losses in one short space of time. And yet over our whole life span we do suffer similar losses. They are simply more spread out, and hopefully less dramatic in general.
Our lives are punctuated by losses of all types. We lose health or mobility or lucid thought. We lose family members through death or sad estrangement. We lose our ideals and dreams as people we trusted prove only too human and institutions to which we belong prove less than perfect. We lose jobs which gave us our sense of worth and identity.
We can’t avoid loss even if it is not as sudden and stark as Job’s losses. What we can do is what Job eventually did: come to trust that God knows what he is doing even if we don’t. And such a conclusion is reached only through seasons of serious doubt and anguish.
Our losses can be healed by a gracious and powerful and wise God. But they are not healed lightly or simply. Our life in God is not essentially an escape from loss but an embracing of his faithful companionship in the midst of loss. We come to realise that while we may lose many much loved things and people, we can never lose Him.