Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath.
One would think that we are made of stronger stuff; that our existence is more secure. We are born small and weak. But we grow and become strong. Good food and exercise produce results.
We are more than physical bodies. We have built up our minds. We sat through classes and read books. We have certificates to prove it.
In addition, we have built up relationships. We have family and friends who stand by to support us and pick us up when we fall. We can count on them. They have our back.
On top of all of this, we may have built up some financial strength. Maybe we have some savings. If nothing else, we have those credit cards. They can help in a pinch.
It’s a good feeling to have some certainty in life. We can say, “Life is good!” “Things are finally going my way!”
Until they are not.
Job from the Old Testament can teach us about such things. He was not foolish enough to think his wealth and his family were the results of his own doing. He knew these were blessings from the holy God. He taught this to his children. He would have gladly sung the hymn, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
His stockpile of blessings was great. Then it wasn’t. In a flash, he lost his crops, lost his herds, lost his wealth—and lost his children. Then, he lost his health.
The question is, “Would he lose his faith?”
Satan was counting on that. He had picked Job as a special target. He placed him in the crosshairs.
The apostle Peter reminds us that we are not much different from Job. We might compare Satan to an enemy sniper. We don’t see him. But he is out there, and he is deadly.
Instead of a sniper, Peter uses a picture that people of all times can relate to: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
It may be easy to pray and hope and believe when things are going well. When life turns against us, we tend to turn against the One who has final control over our life. We are tempted to turn against God.
Job was close to doing that when he called out in pain. He went on to say, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11).
His words, “Remember, O God…” were tinged with the shadow of a rebuke.
Rebuke God? Dare to correct the Holy One? That would make Satan smile. That would put Job into Satan’s kill zone.
Happily, Job pulled back. He told his accusing friends, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15).
Trust in the Almighty was still alive. Doubt might have attacked, but faith fought back. He could go on to declare: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).
Job was the loving child of God, pouring out his heart to his Creator and Redeemer. He did not hide his confusion or his questions. He came with trust, though in weakness.
He might have used the words we sometimes sing, “Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” (Christian Worship 397:3)
We understand Job. We agree with Job.
Prayer: Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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