“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
You won’t find the phrase ‘spiritual warfare’ in the book of Job. But you see it in every chapter, start to finish.
The accuser, Satan, unleashed a quiver full of flaming arrows at Job. With one crushing loss after another Satan reduced Job to heap of grief and anguish. In English you’ll likely notice three verbs of lament as Job absorbs the reality of what has happened to him and his family: He tore his robes, he shaved head, he fell on the ground (1:20). He looks to us like a defeated man.
And then in the lowest moment of his life Job worshiped God. He blessed the name of the Lord.
How Is This Possible?
To bless the Lord’s name means to praise, to honor, to hold up as worthy. It has been said that God’s ‘name’ is his ‘fame’ and when we bless the name we extol God’s reputation. We affirm that God is good. That’s what Job did in his storm, in his loss and grief and confusion. He blessed the name of the Lord.
This is stunning. How is it possible for anyone to really do that? How is it possible for you to do that?
The clue is in Job’s conviction that all of life – absolutely everything – comes by grace. The Lord gives as he wills and he gives freely. He is right and just in taking the same way. Something in us resists this. We may even resent it. That’s why we find it hard to bless the name.
If we trade grace for a life built on what we earn or what we deserve we’ll rarely bless the name. Every good thing that comes our way will be because we worked hard or did right. We earned it or deserve it. Hard working well-behaved people rarely bless the name. Too much self gets in the way.
But when we live by grace, life is different. It’s all a gift. We bless the name when we receive (thanksgiving) and we can bless the name when we lose the same (trust).
When it’s All Said and Done
Of course Job had other things to say. He had questions and he voiced them. He was hurting and he cursed the day of his birth. He had friends who said things to him that he couldn’t accept and he pushed back. He wrangled with God in the storm. You can do that and still bless the name.
But when it was all said and done, Job worshiped God. The book of Job ends in worship. After all Job’s questions God has a few questions for Job. Those questions leave Job repentant, silent before God and the mystery of God’s ways. There is a sense in which the book of Job ends where it began. Job worships God.
As you reflect on the struggles and storms you’ve lived through, maybe you can cling to this basic truth: Storms come to us to lead us to worship.
Such a journey may not happen quickly or follow a straight line. We may have to wait a long time to see the connection between whatever storm we’ve lived through and the goodness of God in it. But if we’ll deal with God – in doubts and questions and cries for help – eventually we’ll come to a place of worship. Eugene Peterson is right in saying that “all prayer pursued far enough, becomes praise.”
“The Lord gives.” How has this been true in your life? Give God thanks for his gifts.
“And the Lord takes away.” Trust him with your storm.
“Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Every anguished prayer eventually becomes praise; the storm can lead you to worship. How will you bless His name today?
“Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Amen
(Matt Redman, “Blessed be the Name”)