Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:1-4)
It was one year ago. Due to the COVID-19 virus, some countries had already locked down. And many countries followed in fear and confusion. People found that it was deadly. Once infected, it melted down our respiratory systems, such as lungs, and people died because they could breathe. Thus, they were on ventilators to continue breathing. No real cure was available at that time, and the maximum that we could do was putting barriers (personal protection equipment) and keeping a distance (social distancing).
Even so, the COVID-19 virus quickly spread throughout the world, and it infected all countries. The world got into the COVID-19 pandemic. The death tolls were rapidly growing, and we painfully watched the horrible scenes of dead people due to the COVID-19 virus. Nobody wanted to get close to those who were sick or those who died due to the COVID-19 virus. All countries banned getting close to those infected, whether they were alive or dead, except highly trained personnel equipped with proper protection gear to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
For the first time in recent history, family members could not be near a dying family member or loved one due to the COVID-19 virus. Even doctors and nurses were afraid of getting close to the dying patient. It was a horrible death in such isolation. Although family, loved ones, and medical staff wanted to be there but they could not. The COVID-19 virus has completely severed the very fabric of being humans, bonded by love and care.
So far, the world has lost 2.58 million people to the COVID-19 virus. Generally, each person has at least ten or more close people in having a relationship daily. Using this number, we can estimate that the COVID-19 virus touched the hearts of 25.8 million. In other words, one out of 300 people in the world lost someone they care for by the COVID-19 virus. If we look around, we can easily see this number is right.
For example, two people whom I know are no longer with me due to the COVID-19 virus. Each time, I could not believe what I heard. Both made empty spots in my heart with sorrow and grief. Such a feeling of mine is not an isolated case. Most of us must have experienced the same sadness of losing loved ones. It is time to put our hearts to God for His mercy and eternal peace because He is our Ever-Loving Father. Today, we want to hear from God through the Book of Job and ask for His mercy on us and the rest of the world.
There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. Job was blameless—a man of complete integrity. Job feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.
Job’s sons and daughters’ loving relationship was exemplary. Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them when these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days.
It was not all. Job was truly faithful to God for his children. He got up early in the morning and offered a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.
Even God praised highly about Job, and told,
“Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” (Job 1: 8b)
In summary, Job was the most righteous man ever lived on earth except Jesus Christ. Then what do we expect Job and about the rest of his life? Nothing bad and painful should happen to Job, and he should live a long life and be prosperous, which is our understanding of how the world works and rewards.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
How would we respond to all the disasters that just happened in the blink of our eyes if we were Job? We might be angry or mad at what was happening. We might be in fear. We might be fainted out upon hearing the bad news. We might just fall on the ground. We might completely lose ourselves without knowing what to do next. Or a combination of some or all of the above. Especially, it is impossible to bear the grief of the loss of all our beloved children at once. They are us, and they cannot be replaced by any means.
Something unthinkable had happened to Job. Upon hearing all one by one, Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Job could not bear the pain. He tore off his robe in grief.
Job’s response was natural as human beings to express the extreme emotion of grief and pain. In fact, we should express. Why? We cannot suppress our extreme grief and pains forever. We might be able to temporarily buried them deep in our hearts, but they are always with us. They are not completely dormant, but from time to time come back and hunt us. They will never leave us alone as we keep burying them in our hearts. Then they become the source of the jagged edges of us, hurting ourselves more, and sadly our loving ones too. The Bible teaches us through Job how we should do under extreme grief and pains. Surely, we should not be violent to others, which will only multiply our grief and pains. Not just us, we put scares in others’ hearts also.
Job tore his robes in grief like he tore and opened up his heart maxed out of grief and pains. Then he shared his head and fell to the ground before God. Nothing was in between God and Him, even one hair. Job’s heart was completely bare before God and in grief and pains. Nothing can hide his mourning heart of losing his beloved children along with other blessings from God. Job knew it was of no use to hide his tormenting heart in grief. He gave all to God because he had no place to go except God.
Job knew and believed everything came from God, whether it was good or painful as he was experiencing. When good things were around him, it was easy to praise God. When all things turned against him, it was so difficult to go back to God. However, Job knew it was time to go back to God without hiding authentically, tear-opening a contrite heart. He did. He came to God, but he had no strength at all. He fell on the ground because the weight of grief was so heavy that he could not bear it. Then Job was silent before God.
Then Job, lifting his eyes, clang to his faith in God. He could not utter at all because his mouth was like a frozen winter lake. He was venting grief and pains before God. Job kept looking up God in Heaven.
We keep looking to the LORD our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. (Psalm 123:2)
Job was in extreme grief and pain, but he was waiting for God while searching for the slightest signal of God’s mercy. As he was getting coherent, Job opened his mouth to God, and said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The LORD gave me what I had,
and the LORD has taken it away.
Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21b)
I came naked and returned naked to God. God gave, and God took away. After all, what we have are not ours. All that we have come from God. Indeed, God provides all things to us, not for our own pleasure but for His work on earth. God has His perfectly good plan for each of us, which is made out of His infinite wisdom beyond our comprehension.
If we can fully comprehend God, then we are equal to God or our God is merely like us. In either case, we don’t have to worship such a god. Who will truly worship another human being the same as us? Who will worship a god who is equally limited and has no idea what will happen next like us? The answer is so obvious. No one would.
Job, instead, worshipped God because he knew who God was. Job put all his hearts under extreme grief and fully trust in God. Yes, Job could not understand as we don’t understand why we have to suffer from the COVID-19 virus. Even so, Job did not ask why or questioned God’s goodness and His sovereignty. Instead, Job accepted what God provided as they were. None of them was acceptable to Job. All equally gave him extreme grief and pains. One after another, they hit Job hard with an increasing degree. It is not easy to overcome one disaster coming into our lives. Job got four in a row, which came one after another with no breathing space.
Let’s see what Job did. Job looked into the very nature of himself first. He came naked and would go back naked. No one ever lived on earth has ever deviated from this truth. Even so, we all live as if we own the things that we possess now. Stupid!
Therefore, they will disappear like the morning mist, like dew in the morning sun, like chaff blown by the wind, like smoke from a chimney. (Hosea 13:3)
All that we have, including our children and our own lives, are like a morning mist, chaff, or smoke, which are temporary and transiently with us. As the time comes, they all disappear without a trace, as if they were not there in the first place. Job professed his faith with his mouth this truth to God.
Then Job gave all authorities to God, who could give and take back. Nothing is ours, and God gives all things. We are just stewarding of all things that we have because God has given us all. God also will reckon more from those who received more from God. Thus, those who have more have more responsibilities before God, which means more work on earth. We, Christians, are sent this world to do God’s work. The more we have, the more work for God. Having more on earth does not necessarily mean an easier and comfortable life, but a sign of God’s intention for us to work more for Him to expand His kingdom on earth. Then if God takes away His things from us, God lessens our work requirements for Him. God wants us to take rest. Sometimes, we need rest, and God has just given rest for us.
However, our hearts are not easy or even frightened when God takes back. Our human nature always wants more and getting less. At the same time, we are even fearful of losing more. No, not at all. Thus, Jesus told,
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:4-5)
God does not just number all our hairs, but also He madly loves us. God created the whole universe and gave it to us because He loved us. God was joyful about what we did to His creation — giving names to all the livestock, the birds of the sky, and the wild animals. God loves us. Yes, God loves us. That is our faith and our hope in this world and after.
Then Job praised God by calling the name of God! Yes, Job praised God amid the extreme agony, grief, and pains. What a victorious prayer was given to God by Job! Surely, it is impossible for us.
Then let’s carefully look at what Job did. Did Job immediately praise God when he heard all the disastrous news that stabbed his heart one by one?
No, Job did not. In fact, he could not because he was a mere human like us. In shock, he got up, but his grief was so heavy that he could not bear the weight. He fell to the ground. He expressed his grief and pains authentically before God. He tore his robe as he ripped opened up his heart before God. He mourned and shaved his head. By doing so, he eliminated all between God and him. Even one hair could not be in the way. He wanted to be right next to God, because it was the only hope and comfort he could have in faith.
Then he looked up God in Heaven like a servant girl waiting for her mistress’s hand. His eyes were filled with tears with mourning heart, but he had never lost hope in God. Yes, he hoped in God. Then he proclaimed one of the most precious prayers of all to God in faith amid distress beautifully so that we can hear his heart loudly and clear even today. Then God of peace that transcends all understanding comforted his heart, and Job’s mouth was filled with praise. Yes, praise, not groaning in pain and grief.
Nobody knows why we have to suffer from the COVID-19 virus by putting us in the unthinkable worldwide pandemic. It has already taken away 2.58 million souls, and we all lost one or more loved ones for whom we cared, which put us in grief and pain. However, today the book of Job in the Bible tells us the secret. It encourages us how to move forward like Job. Jesus Christ came to this world to be served, but to serve by experiencing this excruciating pain and grief in us. Jesus took all our suffering and pain on His shoulder for us to have His Heavenly peace and comfort, and most of all, the priceless eternal salvation and assurance. Jesus gave his loving eyes to those crucifying and mocking at Him and asked God’s forgiveness for each of them, one by one.
By the way, let’s ask a question about who we are. Aren’t we the offenders also, who have made Jesus crucified on the cross? During the Lent season, we participate in His grief and pain in His heart. Share His grief and pain with our fellow sisters and brothers around us still suffering from the painful losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Point together at the cross, where is our hope, peace, and assurance. Then together, raise voices and shout to God in faith, “Praise the name of the LORD, Our God, the Ever-Loving Father!” which is our prayer after the long drained one-year battle with the COVID-19 and losing so many souls around us. God’s peace and comfort on each of you!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)