Yesterday our nation watched a terrible tragedy unfold. There is no situation in which watching a gunman open fire on a school would be easy. But to hear that the victims were young children and people dedicated to educating those children makes it worse. It sharpens the hurt that much more.
As a Christian, whenever I think of tragedy, I think of the story of Job. That is the quintessential Bible story to talk about sorrow and hardship. The story is of a man named Job and his family. We know a few things about Job: He has 7 sons, 3 daughters, a wife, and lots of livestock. The livestock is the best-behaved group in the bunch. Job is described as a righteous man who prays fervently for his family to turn back to God every day.
One day, Satan goes to God and tells Him that Job is only so faithful because he has such a cozy life. He’s well-off, has a huge family, and never wants for anything. If he had none of this, Satan argues, Job would turn away from God just like everyone else. God tells Satan he’s wrong – he can take away any of Job’s things and Job will remain faithful.
So Satan does it. Job literally loses everything. His children are tragically killed. All of his livestock dies. His health deteriorates. His friends turn away from him and his wife tells him to give up. Job has nothing. And he mourns. He grieves and cries for days, talking with God and trying to make sense of his life now.
But there is one line in the book of Job that stands out, that seems almost confusing considering the circumstances. Verse 21 in chapter 1 of Job is when Job says these simple but powerful words: “The Lord has given, and The Lord has taken away. May the name of The Lord be praised.”
May the name of The Lord be praised. I have to be honest and say that might not have been my first reaction in these circumstances. When I read this story growing up, that part made me mad. I was angry on Job’s behalf – how could God allow this?
As I re-read these verses today in light of the Connecticut tragedy, however, a different perspective came to mind. That verse isn’t giving a suggestion of how Job should react. It’s not a commandment. It’s a direct quote from Job. He lost everything and still remembered who his Creator was.
Job was a wise man. He realized something that very few of us understand: Nothing is ours. It’s all God’s. Every last thing. Our homes. Our friends. Our children. We may not like it and we may not understand it. But it’s true.
Since yesterday, many of us have asked “Where was God?” I can only think of one answer. God is right where He has always been: waiting for His people to return to Him and welcoming those who already have. God called those children home where there is no suffering, no sorrow, no senseless murders. We mourn them and we pray for the families who mourn them. But they aren’t lost. They’re perfect now. May the name of The Lord be praised.