Job 1:20-22. 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
The book of Job begins a section in your Bible known as the wisdom literature. Wisdom is the fear of the Lord that teaches us how to live within the complexities of life. And there is no more complex story in your Bible than the story of Job. It begins simple enough. Job is a wealthy man living a righteous life with a beautiful family. But then everything goes wrong. Terribly wrong.
The story moves quickly from the opening scene of Job’s “perfect life” to the throne room of heaven. Satan stands before God and offers his accusation against Job: Job only loves and obeys God because God has blessed him. Job is a parasite that is leeching off God. Take away the protection and the possessions, and Job will turn on God in an instant.
Job 1:11. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.
So God gives Satan permission to take everything away from Job except his life. Satan wastes no time. Job loses it all at once. His servants, his cattle, even his children. But in all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
The story of Job offers us a divine wisdom as to what the relationship between God and man truly is. Most of us believe that man’s relationship with God is a “pay and exact payment” system. God pays us when we do good, and God exacts payment from us when we do wrong. We earn what we get from God, and we deserve what we lose. This is exactly how Job’s friends will interpret his trouble. But Job’s radical response to his suffering tells us something different. He doesn’t say, “But I deserve those blessings,” or “But I earned that good life.” Job is not entitled. He’s sorrowful and yet worshipful. He’s confused at times, yet stays humble.
How? Because Job knows that God’s relationship to us is not one of “pay and exact payment.” Rather our relationship with God is one of “give and take away.” God graciously gives as he sees fit, apart from our good deeds or our earning. And he takes away as he sees fit, apart from our sin and failures.
Satan can’t fathom this. God giving simply by his grace, without earning and without expectation? No way. And he really can’t fathom a human worshiping God even when everything has been taken away from them. Which is why Satan will never understand Christ, or his cross, or his incongruous grace.
How do you know that you are loving God for God, and not just for his “blessings?” When do you know that you trust God’s heart no matter what? When you can say, like Job, the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. And you can only say this when you understand the “give and take away” of Christ and the cross.
We can trust God’s “give and take away” because Christ gave away and took. He gave away his wealth and took our poverty. He gave away his freedom and took our slavery. He gave away his blessing and took our curse. He gave away his righteousness and took our condemnation. He entered into the “pay and exact payment” of sin and death, so that we might live from the “give and take away” of his life and love.
We can trust God’s “give and take away” because on the cross God took everything away from Jesus. His strength, his freedom, his innocence, his life. But far worse he took away his presence. Job never lost the presence of God, but Jesus did. Job was never cursed or condemned by God, but Jesus was. Why? So that God could give to us the righteous life of Christ and take away the accusations and penalty that would separate us from the love of God.
“To live is Christ” means when suffering comes, and it will, we can trust that God will always give and take away whatever is best for us. Why? Because on the cross he already gave us what he will never take away – Jesus. His life. His righteousness. His eternity. His forever love.
Do you see your relationship with God as “pay and exact payment,” or “give and take away?”
You in Christ
How does knowing you are in Christ allow you to trust God in all the “give and take away” of life?
Christ in you
How can you say blessed be the name of the Lord today, even in your suffering?
Playlist: Blessed Be the Name of the Lord
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