“One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am then only one who has escaped to tell you! While he was still speaking, another messenger came…” Job 1:13 – 18a
If you read the first chapter of Job, you will see that three more times, the narrator says: While he was still speaking and another messenger brings news of yet another calamity that has befallen Job. And after all the calamities, Job loses his health as well. The final result is that Job and his wife lose absolutely everything. There is nothing left. As Job hears the final tragedy, the loss of all his sons and daughters, he rends his robe, shaves his head, falls to the ground, and worships God. The chapter ends by saying this:
“In all this Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
I don’t know about any of you, but if I lost everything…if I was in this place of complete disorder. My first reaction would not be to worship God. I would be so overcome with grief over the loss of all my children, I think I might need to be sedated. Here is the thing, I love God. I love teaching others about God and I love all the blessings I receive every day, including the blessing of waking up in the morning. But when I read the complete disorder Job is now in…I think I would need some time before I was able to prostrate myself before God and worship.
Times of disorder are like that. We need time. We will have been broken apart because something so unexpected happened that we need time to make sense of it all. And that doesn’t happen overnight. We won’t wake up the morning after a left turn in life and be fine. Disorder brings life change. Not little life changes…These are the big changes that change the entire trajectory of your life and make you rethink everything you have ever been taught. Especially about faith matters. We are broken apart into a million little pieces.
When your left turn happens, you will feel like you are all alone and you alone will need to put all the pieces back together. It may feel a little like putting a jig saw puzzle together without a picture to go by. It is awful. And yet…
It is beautiful when we sit back and rely on God. Because here is the thing; God is with us and will be with us and will guide us and help us put the pieces that we need back together without a picture to go by. And when God is done you will look around and realize that your life is wonderful once again and you will be amazed at how many pieces were left on the floor and that you no longer need in your life.
That is the thing to remember. There are a lot of pieces to our life that don’t belong. We hold onto them because we are the ones who think we need them when we don’t. As it pertains to our faith, we hold onto teachings that are harmful and hurt people. For example: we believe that if we do everything right (whatever that is!) our lives will be perfect. Not according to scripture. We believe that God will never give us more than we can handle…again not according to scripture. In fact, what scripture actually says is that God will be with us no matter what happens in life. Including in the times of disorder when you lose everything. God will be there to help you rebuild, if you allow God to guide you. That doesn’t mean it will be easy and it won’t be quick. But nothing substantial ever is easy or quick. And the thing to remember is the pattern to life and everything actually, is this: order – disorder – reorder. We see this most clearly in the change of seasons. Unless you live in Florida.
I love what Richard Rohr says about this wisdom pattern to our world:
“A universal pattern can be found in all societies and, in fact, in all of creation. We see it in the season of the year; the stories of Scripture; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; the rise and fall of civilizations; and even in our own lives….We are indeed “saved” by knowing and surrendering to this universal pattern of reality. Knowing the full pattern allows us to let go of our first order, trust the disorder, and, sometime even hardest of all – to trust the new reorder. Three big leaps of faith for all of us, and each of a different character.”
Too often we turn from God in those times of disorder when we need God more than ever. We shun the very thing that will help us make sense of all that has gone wrong and broken apart. We look for quick fixes in all the wrong places because we want to get through the bad stuff fast. But lasting work isn’t fast. If we take the time to walk through the disorder…what we will find is that not only do we get to a place of healing but God will also redeem the bad and turn it into a blessing we never could have imagined. If you would like to read a great book on this very topic, I highly recommend “The Gift of the Unexpected” by Jillian Benfield.
Life can be hard. But it is also wonderful if we open ourselves up to what we can learn in every situation. Job is on a journey. It began when he lost everything. He will sit in silence, in the ashes, for seven days before he even begins the path toward reorder. Through everything, Job stands as the example to us in never cursing God for what has befallen him. Job wants an audience with God…he wants the opportunity to question God…but then who doesn’t. I know I would. But even in the audience Job gets, he doesn’t get the answers he wants. We probably won’t either because once we go through disorder, we are changed, and we can’t go back to what once was.
In the meantime, I hope we can all be content with knowing that God is with us, for us and there in all times both good and bad. In that, I am content. I hope you are too.