“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’” (Job 1:20-21).
Job was a man who had been greatly blessed by God who had given him a wife, 7 sons, and 3 daughters (Job 1:1-2). He had vast riches and was described as “the greatest of all the people of the East” (Job 1:3). He led his family in worship to God (Job 1:4). Of Job, God said, “…there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8).
However, in the first chapter of the book of Job we also see Satan coming before God after wandering to and fro the earth seeking whom he may devour (Job 1:6-7; cf. I Peter 5:8). God asks Satan if he has considered Job. Satan accuses Job of only serving God because God has protected him from pain (Job 1:8-11). Initially, God will permit Job to be tested by allowing Satan to harm everything near and dear to Job (e.g. his possessions and his family), but not touch Job himself (Job 1:12). On a later occasion, God will allow Satan to harm Job himself, but not take Job’s life (Job 2:6).
What happens to Job as Satan attacks him was devastating. Initially, Job hears a messenger who tells him the Sabeans have come and destroyed all his oxen, donkeys, and even killed his servants who were with them (Job 1:14-15). Before this report is fully made to him, another messenger comes to him and tells him how “fire of God” fell from heaven and destroyed his sheep and more of his servants (Job 1:16). Again, before all the details of this report are described to him, another servant comes and informs him the Chaldeans have taken all his camels and killed more of his servants (Job 1:17). Finally, before this report is finished, another messenger informs him how a “great wind” came and destroyed the house where all his children were and killed them (Job 1:18-19).
I cannot even imagine the “shock and awe” Job must have felt. He heard four devastating reports one after another. He did not even have a moment to digest the impact of each report before more shattering news was brought to him. It is understandable why he would tear his robe, shave his head and fall to the ground as he heard the news (Job 1:20). But what made Job such a unique man, whom God said “there was none like him” (Job 1:8), was what he did next. The next thing he did was to worship God and say, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
I wish I could be certain that I would react as did Job if I were faced with such a calamity. I pray that I may never have to face what he faced. God does not spare us from having to experience the tragedies of life. Too often we ask the wrong question when faced with tragedy by saying, “Why is God letting this happen to me?” when we should be thinking, “God must think a lot of me to allow Satan to do this to me. How can I seek God’s help to enable me bear this tragedy?” As we will see throughout the book of Job, it was a struggle for Job to bear this tragedy, but his initial response of seeking to worship God was an admirable one for us to follow when faced with heartbreaks in our own lives. Today, I will strive to seek God’s help and strength when I face life’s tragedies.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).