Laurie Nichols on Being Thankful for the Bad This Thanksgiving

Laurie Nichols is Director of Communications and Marketing for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, creator of the Our Gospel Story curriculum, co-host of the new podcast Living in the Land of Oz, and she blogs at Not All Those Who Wander. She formerly served as Managing Editor for Evangelical Missions Quarterly. Laurie is involved in anti-exploitation efforts when she is not spending time with her husband and two kids.

Arguably the oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job has become, for many of us, a guidebook on how to suffer well (if there is such a thing). It is worth wondering why Moses (or another) chose to document the life of Job as one of the first entries of God’s faithfulness to humanity.

The book begins with a descriptive of Job’s character: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

In a seemingly senseless act, God allows Satan to, one by one, take away the blessings God has bestowed upon him—his livestock, his servants, his children. At this last measure, Job gets up, tears his robe, shaves his head, and falls to the ground in worship saying, “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 1:20-21).

Job’s first recorded act in such loss is worship.

This would not be mine, I will be honest.

Nor has it been mine when pain and hurt and sickness have come upon me.

And yet my mind immediately goes to the suffering church around the world, who often, in one accord, cry, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Now we must not idolize Job. His responses (and his friends’ responses) over the course of the loss ebb and flow like the ocean’s tides. This is because Job, like us, was human. He could neither ignore the fears and anger and loss that gripped his heart any more than we can ignore ours today. But read where he lands the proverbial plane:

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)

His suffering lifts his eyes to his redeemer, and to a picture of the future that nearly (if not fully) leads him into a spirit of Thanksgiving. When all has been stripped away, still he has his Lord.

This Thanksgiving, we have already begun the practice of offering gratitude for all the good things in our lives—we thank God for our families, our friends, our health, our jobs. We thank him for food and shelter and his presence. We thank him for warm days and Christmas lights and soft candlelight.

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Source: Christianity Today