Understanding Through Loss

As I finished the book of Job in the Old Testament, there was a passage in Job’s confession and repentance to God that stuck out to me.

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:5-6

Job had just finished hearing an answer from the Lord, an answer that came in a way I don’t think he was expecting. When you look at the discourse between Job and his friends, the questions Job asked were for an understanding of why such destruction had come to him. He wanted understanding as to why he was inflicted so much pain and suffering, such loss. But the answer he received was something bigger than himself and his situation.

“Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”

Job 41:10-11

God’s answer to Job’s questions was simple. He was God. He holds all authority, wisdom, and knowledge. Nothing happens without His acknowledgment, and there is purpose in all He does. While Job knew this, I think it would be safe to argue he had yet to understand it. He may have thought he experienced God’s goodness in the receiving of blessing before, but it was through the trial of loss that Job truly began to understand God’s goodness. And it was when the understanding was fully realized, Job knew how great God is. In awe and reverence, Job repents once again finding himself in the dust and ashes.

I’ve often questioned God when my life seems to be in chaos. When the things I have been blessed with begin to fall away. I have a tendency to approach God with arrogance, asking “Why did you take my stuff?” You see, I fail in those times to understand like Job, that I haven’t given God anything. Nothing is mine. Everything under the heavens is His, and He has the authority to give and take at His will, not mine.

Job came to understand fully where his blessing came from. At the end of the day God poured out His blessing on Job, simply because it was in His authority to do so. Just as it was in His authority to allow Satan to rain destruction on Job’s life. Job despised himself for his arrogance in thinking God owed him an answer, a justification for taking his blessing away. How often do we act the same way?

How often do we face hardship and think, “God, you owe me an explanation here!” How often do we question God’s actions, finding ourselves justified in our own eyes? It’s not that asking God questions is a bad thing. Looking back and reflecting more on Job’s words though, I see something deeper we must be cautious of. In seeking an understanding of God’s actions, we must be careful to not question His authority. One seeks understanding, and the other seeks justification. Job’s story teaches me that I have no place to question God’s justification for His actions. If I truly believe He is sovereign, then who He is is justification enough.

Like Job, I may not fully understand the whole picture. But I don’t have to either. At the end of the day, God simply calls me to trust and obey. Trust and obey. At the end of the day, Job trusted and obeyed. And what I love about Job’s story is God honored his faith and obedience with a greater blessing than he had before.

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:10

In the end, Job’s story challenges me with this question: How do I approach God when my life is flipped upside down? Do I harbor arrogance, believing deep in my heart that God has taken my things? Or do I truly seek to understand God’s plan for my life and how this fits in the big picture? One is rooted in distrust and pursuit of my own glory. One is rooted in the trust and obedience of Him.

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