Have you ever wanted something really badly, had to wait what seemed like an eternity for it, and then, it happened? You got that thing! It was glorious! You celebrated. Bragged a little (or a lot). Enjoyed it. Maybe this possession gave you some freedom. Less dependence on others. Or security. Perhaps it gave you a sense of worth or value. It made you feel more in control of yourself and your schedule or activity. It is odd how a material thing can provide these things.
And then, as quickly as it came, it got taken away. Ouch. Heartbreak. The feeling of loss can sometimes be overwhelming. You feel like nothing that you have truly belongs to you. You lament how a material possession can impact you that much. Perhaps we have so much that belongs to us that when something is taken away, we don’t quite know how to handle it.
What do you do when that which you have waited for, perhaps saved for, or made life changes for, or sacrificed for, goes away?
A man named Job, praised by God, in fact, singled out as praiseworthy by God as He and satan were conversing, makes the famous statement in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
Job had a strong relationship with God and followed Him with great faithfulness. He made offerings regularly to the Lord and lived an upright life. He was a wealthy man and had many possessions. So why would God allow a virtual strip-down of everything in Job’s life? Not just possessions but loved ones. It seemed so harsh.
If you follow Job’s journey of processing through all of his loss, he does indeed come back to the praise of God’s ways being above his own, and things in God’s realm being “things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3) However, in the midst of Job’s moving from criticism of God, to a little self-righteousness, back to submission to God, we see Job begin to really grasp the intimate personality of a relationship with God. God cares for Job on a far deeper level than an “obey me and I will bless you” level. God wants Job to recognize the depth of His love. It isn’t a conditional love, it isn’t a love predicated on surplus, or smooth sailing. God is there through the thick and the thin, the pain and the trials, the loss as well as the gain. Without Job’s experience, he wouldn’t have known that. Things had always been good for Job.
Another lesson to take away is that loss in this world helps us remember that this world isn’t all there is. If we get so hung up on allowing the things of this world to fill our buckets, we don’t strive the way that we ought for the things beyond this world – all that Jesus promised us. He came to earth so that He could set us free from the earthly ties of sin, to launch us into the heavenly realms when we accept His payment for our imperfections. Heaven. Perfection. Total satisfaction and peace and joy.
Things in this world can bring incredible happiness. But they are temporary.
The apostle Paul stated: “But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile—now I’ve thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ”. (Philippians 3:7-8)
Jesus knows that we can get sucked in by the things in this world. But He gives us some beautiful pictures of heaven and the peace and joy that come with us to draw our thoughts upward. And one day, we will experience Him and those things in all of their fullness!