Pondering Job in a Pandemic – Chapter 1

Life is very strange to say the least. As of this morning, according to major International News Outlets, one quarter of the world’s population is in some form of lockdown. This is incomprehensible really. I’ve never even imagined something like this happening, let alone experienced anything like it. Nor has anyone I know.

Even at this early hour here in New Zealand there is an eerie quietness outside. We live fairly close to the main road which passes by Rolleston. There is still some road noise, I even hear a plane passing over at this moment. Yet it is significantly less volume than usual, on this first morning of our national lockdown.

In the midst of all of this, I am pondering Job. I want to learn something about the unchanging character of God each morning. I want to learn something about the tendencies and idols of my own heart each morning. I want to learn something about the steadfast faithfulness of God towards His people each morning.

I wonder if you consider yourself to be rich, or well-off or even just financially/materially comfortable? Job was a very wealthy man to be sure. Most of us are not “very wealthy”, yet most all of us are extremely blessed – even at this time. Most of us have ample food in our homes, comfortable houses to live in during this lockdown, family nearby, some form of consistent income (at least for now), tools and technology that allow us to work from home and stay connected with our church family, extended family and friends. There are many, many people around the world who, as this virus extends its spread, have none of this! We should actively seek to meet the needs of others out of our abundance. We should also continually give thanks to our Heavenly Father for His lavish love towards us.

Many of us (especially Dads, but also Mums if both generally work outside of home or if the kids are generally in school) are about to spend significant quantities of time with our children. It has grieved me to read comments made online, even by Christian parents where they have expressed dread at this idea. I especially feel sad for the children who may read these comments either now or one day in the future and imagine how they will feel knowing their parents thought this way. Yet even more, parents who are thinking this way are almost certain to miss wonderful opportunities of quality time with their children. Job loved his children. Even after they were grown and many were away from home, he prayed for them, sought to intercede for them, served them as a kind of family priest before God. May God help us to view our children as a gift, receive the time we have with them as a gift and invest ourselves in them for their spiritual good. What better place for them to be during a time of such unsettledness than home with a Dad and Mum who will point them to the faithfulness and steadfast love of God.

It is amazingly good news to know God is soveriegn even over and in the trails, tragedies and traumas which enter our lives. Did you notice in verse 9, it was the LORD who first directed Satan’s attention towards Job? It was the LORD – Yahweh – Job’s Covenant God. The God Who loved Him, had given him everything he ever had, the God Who now purposefully seeks to test Job and, in this case, will use Satan as an instrument in this.

Satan is an enemy of God and His people. He is a liar. He is evil and his works are evil. He is a lion seeking whom he may devour. Yet he is a lion on a leash. He can do nothing outside of God’s sovereign providence and he can do no more than God’s purposefully permits.

Even now, perhaps especially now, this is amazingly good news. Whether what we are experiencing and will in the coming weeks or months is occurring due simply to the reality that we live in a Fallen World, or due to the direct involvement of Satan or due even to some extent to our own personal sin (all of us will sin in some ways, which will make our circumstances even more difficult), we can know that it all is purposed for our good and God’s glory because of His omnipotent, sovereign rule over our lives and over everything that happens in all of the Universe.

Knowing and believing this truth, which is clearly declared in God’s Word and clearly pictured for us here in the trails of Job does not remove the pain, does not mean that we know the exact and specific intent of this trail or this tragedy at this very moment. This is truth we hold onto in faith.

Of course, here’s the thing… If we remove God and His sovereign rule even over our trials, we remove the possibility of purpose. If there is no God or if there is a god who is not sovereign and all powerful, you and I are still in lockdown (along with 1/4 of the world’s population), Covid-19 still exists, masses of people are still dying, whatever more difficult days to come are still coming but it is all random, it is all undirected – most hopelessly, there is not certain purpose.

Yet, when in faith we fix our eyes on the unchanging character of God and trust His goodness, extended to us by His sovereign power we will respond like Job. We will bow in worship, we will bless the name of the LORD, we will rest in His care knowing that all we are and everything we have are from Him. He is our Covenant, Heavenly Father and we can entrust ourselves to Him – even especially when everything happening is beyond our ability to understand.

Soli Deo Gloria

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