November always brings gratitude to the forefront of my mind in anticipation of Thanksgiving. I recently learned something about gratitude from an unlikely source: Job.
Job is famous for the depth of losses he experienced: he lost all his livestock (symbols of wealth and his ability to earn a living) and all ten of his children within a single day. When I consider enduring such loss, I feel my knees buckling at the mere thought.
Most of the book of Job is comprised of dialog between Job and his well-intentioned-but-hurtful friends. In the end (spoiler alert), we are left without direct answers to the question of suffering and are to be consoled with the truth that God is both mysterious and powerful.
Here’s the passage that has tugged on my heart since reading it:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” –Job 1:20,21 ESV
It would be naïve to think that these two verses summed up Job’s grief. He undoubtedly carried the pain of his losses for the rest of his years. And Job does some pretty impudent questioning of God throughout the rest of the book (we’ve all been there, right?). So, let’s resist the urge to oversimplify and put Job on a pedestal.
Yet there is something remarkable about those two verses. How could Job worship in the midst of his grief? How could he utter those words?
The answer, I think, is gratitude.
I suspect Job looked on his wealth with keen awareness that it had been given to him by God. I suspect he recognized his children as gifts from Him. Only a lack of entitlement can submit humbly to such deep loss. Gratitude is a posture of open-handedness—the ability to receive a gift from the Giver and to part with it again when required.
It struck me that Job weathered it because he already knew from Whom all good gifts come (James 1:17). Let’s not wait to begin a practice of gratitude in the midst of a crisis.
Let’s begin now.
If you’re already dealing with a painful loss, I’m praying you will experience God’s comfort. Please drop me a line to tell me how I can pray.