5 Understandable Words:
“…The Lord has taken away…” Job 1:21c
I received a call last week asking if I was available to officiate a memorial service for a man who had passed away suddenly. The funeral was yesterday, which is why I was unable to provide a 5UW post. I helped the family develop the memorial service on Saturday, and officiated the memorial service where I led the singing for the one hymn, sang a special selection, and preached a brief sermon.
The eulogies were touching. This man’s life made a difference in this life. He was a graduate of The Ohio State University, competing the requirements for an engineering degree. He later received his professional engineer certification, and was certified in at least twenty states as both a mechanical and electrical engineer. He worked as a consultant to one of our national protection services, advising on infrastructure needs for their offices scattered throughout the country. He was a professional who enjoyed his work and strove for excellence, winning the admiration of his peers and coworkers.
The pictures at the funeral home displayed a man that enjoyed life. There was an array of pictures with his wife and children at various places. He had an endearing smile… one which, I’m sure, quickly won people over. He must have often worn a baseball type hat… I’m guessing it was his favorite hat that was in the coffin next to him. His wife of forty-five years was clearly at a loss, and she will be discovering the hardship of widowhood in the coming days. I believe she will work through it successfully, as it seemed both her husband and her have always known how precious each day is in this life… knowing there is no promise of tomorrow.
The eulogies at the service reflected genuine love and respect from his coworkers. Those who worked with him on projects throughout the country shared some great memories of his love for ice cream and his propensity towards detail in describing specifications for the many projects requiring his skills.
The couple were blessed with two children in their marriage. They are both grown now and obviously loved their father dearly. He was not an absentee father. He was involved with their lives in school, sports, and social lives. He supported their interests and worked hard to provide for his wife and family.
It was a true blessing to be a part of this man’s memorial service. The admiration, respect, love and devotion shown by family, friends, co-workers and peers was refreshing. They were all there for this man’s family in their time of need. For my talk, I focused on the life of Job (pronounced J-oh-b).
Job was a man of wealth and influence, and even more importantly, he was a man of faith. He worked hard to provide for his family, rising early for his quiet time with The Lord when he would pray for his children (Job 1:1-5). As the story goes, God took note of Job’s piety, devotion, and responsible living, and brought up Job’s name in a conversation with satan, the father of lies and tempter (v.8; John 8:44; Genesis 3:1-15). God described Job as being uniquely blameless and upright, shunning evil. Satan, however, suggested his failure to tempt Job derived from Job being securely surrounded by God’s protection and favor. Things were about to change for Job, as God was about to allow satan to test the genuineness of Job’s faith (vv. 6-12).
Then, one day, in a matter of just a few hours Job’s wealth, possessions, and children were all destroyed. Job’s reaction? He arose, tore his clothes as a sign of mourning, fell to his knees in worship and said,
“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.” (v.21)
Through the horrific losses, Job did not get angry with God, accusing Him of wrongdoing (v.22). God then allowed satan to inflict Job with painful sores over his entire body. Job was a pitiful site as he sought relief from the pain by scraping the sores with a broken piece of pottery. His wife told him to curse God and die. However, Job maintained his integrity, answering his wife with the question, “Should we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:1-10). Job had three friends that came to visit him and share his pain. During their visit, Job came to a time of pondering the meaning of life. Job resolved to take it before God (Job 13:3), in faith, knowing it would all turn out for the good, for that is God’s character (Job 13:16; Galatians 2:28).
The fourteenth chapter of Job reveals Job’s heart as he struggles with the meaning of life. Job expressed to God how he wished he would have died instead of his children (v.13). He then asks God a question that mankind has grappled with since the beginning of time: “If a man dies, will he live again?” (v.14). Jesus answered this question at the grave of a man named Lazarus.
Lazarus was the brother of a woman named Mary. She is the very one whom the disciples had chastised for anointing Jesus’ head with precious oil and whose actions Jesus defended (John 12:1-8; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:38; John 11:2). Mary and her sister, Martha, sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was critically ill. Jesus and Lazarus were close friends, however, Jesus and the disciples stayed in an area on the other side of the Jordan river from Jerusalem where many were coming to faith in Jesus (John 10:40-42; 11:3-6). While Jesus and his disciples were there Lazarus died.
Martha met Jesus with a bereaved heart, telling Him her brother would not have died had Jesus been there. Jesus told her that Lazarus would live again. Martha answered she believed her brother would rise again at the end of time when all will who believer will rise (John 11:21-24).
Jesus’ words to Martha are words answered the question posed by Job many years before, and are words which will ring true for all eternity:
“I am The Resurrection and The Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25)
Yes, in the passing of our loved ones and friends, we can say The Lord has taken away. God deems beautiful the deaths of those who died believing, as He receives their souls into Heaven’s joy. Job’s question for all humanity was answered by The One Who conquered death and hell, and Who provided a prequel to His victory through the resurrection of Lazarus and the declaration He made at Lazarus’ tomb.
King David echoes Job’s words pondering about life’s bevity and meaning in Psalm 39:
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath.” (vv. 4-5)
Have a blessed day…