Job had it all: sons and daughters, sheep and camels, oxen and donkeys, and servants! What more could anyone want? ‘He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.’ But he was not only wealthy, he was also good: ‘blameless and upright’ – not that he was sinlessly perfect, but he was a man of genuine sincerity and integrity; ‘he feared God and shunned evil’ – he truly wanted to honour God and bring him glory, which meant that he consciously and deliberately turned away from evil; he blocked it and wanted nothing to do with it. And yet, there was within Job a concern that his children might turn away from God, so he offered sacrifices on their behalf.
v6-12 give us a glimpse into the workings of the heavenly parliament. The angels (literally ‘sons of God’) are gathered in the presence of the Lord, and, strange though it may seem, Satan is there; perhaps he is allowed to ‘gatecrash’ in some sense. In v8, the Lord repeats from v1 about Job being blameless and upright. Satan responds that Job only fears God because of the blessing he has been given, and that if the blessings are removed, Job will abandon his uprightness and curse God (v11). ‘Very well, then,’ says the Lord, ‘do what you will, but don’t touch Job himself.’ Note that Satan has only limited power; God is sovereign over Satan.
Some time later, possibly on his eldest son’s birthday (see v1 & v13), Job receives a series of 4 messages. His oxen, donkeys and camels have been stolen, his sheep are dead, his servants have been killed, and his house has collapsed! How would we have coped with that? Job’s response is astonishing: he is understandably grief-stricken (‘tore his robe and shaved his head’ v20), but then he ‘fell to the ground in worship’! He acknowledges that God has the right to take away what he has given, and he praises the name of the Lord. Satan had said that if God’s blessings were removed, Job would curse God. Satan was so wrong (v22). It’s easy to worship in times of blessing; can we still praise God in times of suffering and loss?
We should most definitely give thanks to God for all that he blesses us with (a degree of material prosperity, possessions, jobs, homes etc.), but he has the right to withhold, or even remove, these blessings. He sometimes strips away everything except himself, and brings us to point where all we have is him – and that’s enough. If we have him, we have enough. Praise him when he gives, and praise him when he takes away. Our hearts may be aching, and our eyes may be filled with tears, but his name is always to be praised.