Daily Devotional: Job
As a church, a state, a nation—even as a planet—our human sights are set firmly on the danger at hand. Whether it’s concern about getting sick, worry over our finances, or just the longing to return to our comfortable routines, the coronavirus dominates our attention like nothing in recent history. We know where the virus began, how it travels, and what it’s done to this country and others. And yet, as we’ve watched, fascinated, to see how our nation responds, to see what it means for us today, and what it will mean for us tomorrow, something happened that we almost didn’t notice: the seasons changed. Winter, fighting to the bitter end, has finally fallen away, and Spring has begun to creep across our continent.
Outside, the days are now filled with light. The air is still cool, but fresh. The breeze carries scents of earth and rain as it whispers through trees, making them lean and sway in graceful rhythms. Deer gather in our yard, hunting for new growth among old weeds; a mature doe tries to chase away younger ones while two bucks calmly watch from a distance. Above, a pair of hawks are gliding in wide circles, wheeling and rising with slight shifts of wing or tail, patiently watching the ground below. It’s all so calm and normal. I can’t help but take a deep breath, and sigh with contentment.
Wait a minute! Calm and normal! Are these animals allowed to be out? Don’t they know we’re in the middle of a global crisis? Haven’t the seasons been suspended or something?
It turns out, Spring arrived without even a polite nod to COVID-19. God has continued moving our world around the sun, spinning it along a path he created ages ago, breathing out life and light in an unending display of power and glory.
Is it possible that we—even as the upright church of God—have become a little self-absorbed?
I’m reminded of the book of Job. Much like our situation today, he found himself in the grip of sudden catastrophe—all our worst fears, fully realized. As he lamented the tragic changes in his upright life—loved ones killed, fortune lost, sickness spreading across his body—he questioned God’s judgment in Job 31:
“Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!”
God answered Job with some questions of his own. Here are just a few parts from Job 38-41:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time they give birth, when they crouch, bring forth their offspring, and are delivered of their young? Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high? I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?”
In chapter 42, Job responds with honesty:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you and you make it known 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.”
For many of us, the concerns caused by this pandemic are justified. Some will get sick, some will lose jobs or savings, and it may take an excruciating amount of time to recover from any of it. It’s only natural to be absorbed—even overwhelmed—by the tension and the clamoring around us. But our lives are no longer merely natural. Let your eye see God. He is infinitely wise, infinitely loving, infinitely powerful, and has infinitely bigger plans than this virus—plans that include you. Keep in mind what God Almighty has already done; he’s created you, called you, and cleansed you at great cost through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is eternal, and if you belong to Christ, you are already part of it. When my eye sees God, I can’t help but take a deep breath, and sigh with contentment.
“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” —Philippians 4:11-13