Parish News : September 2021

Let us Bless the Lord

One feature of the Church of England Lectionary which we follow in our Sunday services week by week, is that some parts of the Bible (particularly the Hebrew Bible, which we call the Old Testament) are covered less often than others.  One book notable for that, is the book of Job.  In the three-year cycle we follow, on Sundays small sections are read from its 42 chapters on just 6 weeks.  This is a great shame, because Job has much to teach us about facing suffering. 

Job was described as ‘blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil’ (Job 1.1)  He was also a very successful and wealthy man, with a large family and estate and many possessions, but he still placed his relationship with God foremost in his life.  The book then describes how Satan discusses Job’s character with God, and so God allows him to attack everything Job possesses, but not Job’s life, to demonstrate that Job will not curse God whatever happens to him.

So, Job’s children are all killed, and also all his livestock are too.  Job grieves greatly and responds (1.21):  ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’  The story of Job’s tribulations continues from there, and is well worth reading all through.  But this first reaction to what by any standards is the most appalling loss for anybody to suffer is worth learning from.

The Lord gives.  That applies to anything we have in this world.  We may feel we earned our wages or pension, but in the end, the ability to do the work, the job itself, the money that came from the bank, all of it has been given to us by the Lord of heaven and earth.  It is important for us to remember to thank God for all that he has given us, even our very lives.  As the General Thanksgiving (from the Book of Common Prayer) puts it, ‘for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life.’

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.  If God wants to remove a blessing from our life, who are we to question or to complain?  God is God.  His will is paramount in the world.  That sounds arbitrary and random, and it would be if God’s love for the world, and for us were not higher and longer and wider and deeper than we can get our heads around.  God’s love for us is deeply personal, so I believe he does not act in our lives in an arbitrary way.  So, if by God’s will something or someone is taken from us, who are we to question that?

That does not mean I do not question God. I often do.  I have a long list of questions I have for him, about why he allowed a certain child to die, or a certain person to become ill in the way they were.  But I know that I will not have an answer for my list of questions until the day when I meet him face-to-face.  Meanwhile, I think Job’s response is one that is worth adopting.  The Lord gives, the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Let us all, whatever our circumstances, find ways of blessing the Lord today and every day.  Let us bless the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

Tina Upton


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