An Unlikely Response to Tragedy

I just read Job 1.

You know, that uplifting account of this righteous guy that Satan attacks because God is confident that Job will still praise Him.

And verses 20 and 21 stopped me in my tracks.

Job has just learned that he has lost all of his children in a “freak” accident (actually, it was a calculated act of Satan, permitted by God).  And he got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head – all typical cultural responses to indicate mourning.

I expected the next sentence to read, “Then he fell to the ground in mourning,” or something similar.  But it didn’t.  Instead, it says, “Then he fell to the ground in worship.”

Huh?

You mean this dude just lost the most important people in his life in one instance and he’s worshiping?

This must be an error in translation.  The Hebrew probably really means “Then he fell to the ground in a heap of tears, his heart broken in a million pieces, unable to see any good in the situation whatsoever.”

And I’d be willing to go with that eisegesis, but the following verse won’t let me.

Verse 21 has Job declaring, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Could it be that the greatest of tragedies are supposed to drive us to praise God?

How odd.  I cannot wrap my mind around this novel idea.  Does. not. compute.

Obviously, praising God in the face of heartbreak is not a natural response.  That begs the question, how do we train our hearts to respond like Job – with worship – when tragedies sneak up on us?

Last week I learned a friend from high school gave birth to her first child, only to lose him quite unexpectedly two days later from a heart defect they knew nothing about the entire pregnancy.

And I responded with a heartbroken, “Oh…Lord…” because no other words would come.  All I could get out was, “Oh!  Lord!”

My utterance conveyed, “Lord, I don’t understand… Lord, this is terrible.  Lord, I know You are in control, but the pain is overwhelming.  No one can comfort this family except You.  Lord, they NEED You, and You alone will suffice!  Oh, Lord, come!”

I suppose that is a biblical response to tragedy.  But it is not quite the “worship” and “praise” Job speaks of.

The Lord gave that baby to my friends, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be PRAISED.

Worship.

We may not understand tragedy, but we are convinced that He is good, He is in control, and He is worthy of our praise.

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