What did Job say when he lost all his possessions, his sheep, his camels, even his children. All which had been killed and his possessions had been captured. What did he say?
Did he curse God? No. Did he curse God for his lost possession? No. He grieved for sure. But he realized that God had given him everything on loan. And it was God’s to take away.
Job grieved. He was saddened. He loved his children and now they were all dead. His possessions and wealth gave him great joy and now they were all gone and he had lost it all.
But despite that, he still had his God, whom he realized, stood sovereign above it all.
Do we grieve when a loved one dies? Absolutely. Do we feel upset when we lose our health? We sure do! Are you frightened of the future after a job loss? There is no doubt. I have felt all of these first hand at one point or another in my life. The questions, the wondering why we are being punished, the concern for what is next. These all naturally come to our minds.
When Job learns of his loss, we see what he did. In the English text, we read five verbs that show what he does and how he reacts.
He got up. In his grief, perhaps despite his grief, he arose. He got up off the ground. Sometimes the first step we all need to take is just getting back up. If we lay in our grief, then it consumes us and nothing else will happen. As we see in the text above, Job has more to do, more actions to take, so he got up first.
He tore his robe. We see many times through scripture that in great grief, a person would tear his robes. The word translated as robe, is not a robe as we think of one today. It’s not an undergarment, it’s is thought to be a robe, one that keeps him warm at night. It was something that brought him comfort on the cold desert nights, but it would have also offered him protection from the sun during the day. It was an important garment.
He reached up around the neck and tore it. Not just a small tear that could be repaired. No he ripped it from top to bottom. Completely torn in too. Rendering it useless.
Why would he do that? It may have been one of the few possessions he had left. It was done to show is extreme anguish and grief. The messengers that brought him news of his loss of possessions and finally the death of his children were non-stop. It doesn’t appear he had time in-between messengers to process and grieve. No as soon as one was done talking, another had already burst through the door and was giving him the bad news.
He tore his robe as it was the only way he knew how to express his great grief. A display of utter despair at what he has been told. An involuntary display of emotion that could not be mistaken for anything else but utter and complete grief.
He shaved his head. This might also be interpreted as his beard or perhaps in general the hair on his face and head. A man’s hair in that culture and to a certain degree even today, is often a sign of man-hood, of maturity, of responsibility, of respect. Many cultures even today, a man’s beard in particular is a rite of passage into manhood and by removing a mans beard, you are removing the signs of that manhood. Why did Job do this? Again, in his grief, the shaving of his head and face is a sign of loss. A sign of loss not only of things, but of his own personal glory. Taking away what made him a man, what made him Job and debasing himself to just being human, to be like the young babe that he came into this world as.
He fell to the ground. I don’t believe this was out of weakness from the grief. No, I feel it was a deliberate action that was taken to lead us to the next action. Despite his grief, he had a plan. One that he could and even should turn into action. He fell to the ground as the first step of his plan, leading to the final step.
He worshiped. He fell to the ground and he worshiped. In his grief…despite his grief. His first thought was to worship. Not to worship as Job the great and wealthy Job. No that had been taken from him. He took any self identity and sign of importance left to him when he shaved his beard. No he was just a human, prostrate on the ground, in utter submission, worshiping his creator.
Most of us have never lost everything in one moment like Job did. All these things may happen at some point throughout our long lives. But for Job it happened in a moment. He still fell down and worshiped. I pray that in my darkest moments, which are still like the brightness of the sun compared to all that Job endured, I can still worship my God.