June 24 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“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 1:21

Job was an ancient God-follower who lived in the ancient city of Uz, which was probably located somewhere across the Jordan in the proximity of the ancient kingdom of Edom. (Job is called the greatest man of the East and his friends have Edomite names.) The writer of Job grapples with the age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? Job was clearly a good man—he went over and above the call of his religious duties—yet he lost everything. God allowed Satan to take Job’s property, his children, and his health; in fact, everything was taken except his bitter wife who belittled him for staying faithful to God.

Two important theological lessons become apparent in the opening scenes. First, God is sovereign even over pain and suffering. He clearly allowed these bad things to happen to Job. Some have tried to resolve the ancient problem of why pain and suffering exist by suggesting that God is not sovereign and therefore unable to prevent evil, but Job’s book countermands that argument. Second, suffering is not always caused by a person’s sin. A simplistic answer like “he must have done something really bad” will not do.

Perhaps the most moving line in this opening scene is Job’s initial response to his pain. He fell to the ground in worship. Then he confessed, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Although at this point Job seemed unable to understand why trouble had visited him, he clearly believed that nothing was outside of the control of a sovereign God—whether bad weather or Arabian bandits. There is mystery here, and yet there is also worship. However, we cannot idealize Job’s initial response. He trusted God in the midst of painful tragedy, but this does not mean his experience was struggle-free. Far from it—see his poem of despair in chapter 3.

We can trust God, yet still struggle with the things He allows into our lives. But do we trust? Do you? Are you like Job, who remained trusting and faithful while hurting?  I know it’s tempting to be more like Job’s wife, angry and bitter as pain festers. (Can you imagine how much she was hurting?!) Perhaps now is a good time to think of some of the pain and disappointment that has come into your life and say (with God’s help): “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” And like Job, you are allowed to cry when you say it.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.