Teaching children is one of the great joys in life. Or so I’m told.
I have friends who teach children daily and I don’t know how they do it. But, I teach a class at church once a week and for the most part, it’s joyous. Sometimes the teaching isn’t as joyous, but the learning definitely is.
That moment when one of the kids is actually able to remember and apply what you’ve taught them, that’s the moment I think any teacher has to live for.
Recently I’ve been teaching the class I fondly refer to as “the littles”. They range from 4 to 6 years old. They’re at the age that they soak up everything, the good and the bad. We’ve been learning about Job for awhile and they’d never heard the story before.
For those of you who haven’t been teaching about Job lately, I’ll update you on his story. He was a good man. One of our first memory verses was “Job was an upright and righteous man who feared the Lord…” (part of Job 1:1) This is a memory verse that some of the kids can still quote, even weeks after they learned it. Proud moment. But the Lord allowed Job to be tested. Job lost everything. His riches, his family, his home, his livelihood, all his worldly possessions. Finally, he lost his health.
As many of you know, my grandpa passed away recently. And I miss him. He, much like Job, was an upright and righteous man who feared the Lord.
He was born on the farm we currently live on and grew up well below a poverty line that was not even defined yet. He got an 8th grade education before he had to start working. But, he could read the King James Version of the Bible out loud more eloquently than anyone else I’ve ever heard.
He raised a son who loves the outdoors and that son raised me in the same way. I have more memories than I can even begin to number from hunting, fishing and farming with him.
He was raised in a small country church that he went on to pastor, a position he held for most all of my life. He taught me for years, which is probably how I find myself now teaching the next generation in the same church.
The memory verse the kids learned about Job being an upright and righteous man who feared the Lord is a good verse for them to know. But, it isn’t the verse that comes to mind when I think of Job.
Job suffered. I’m not sure exactly how long he suffered for, but the Bible devotes 42 chapters to his life, so my guess is that the suffering was anything other than temporary. But during that time, he never denied God. He never blamed the Lord for what happened to him. He continued to be upright and righteous. In all of it, Job is recorded for having said this:
“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b)
This. Said by a man who suffered failing health, the death of his children, the loss of everything. He’s blessing the name of the Lord in his times of receiving and in his times of losing.
It’s really easy to bless the name of the Lord in our times of receiving. To say thank you for good things, to feel like God is blessing us. But what about in the times of losing?
What happens if what you lost and what you gained joined hands and became the same thing?
We focus on our loss in death, but what if we look at what the Lord gave us?
I was given a grandpa who I saw 2-3 times a week for my whole life, who loved me and told me so, who taught me the right way to live, who made such an impression in my life that I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without his influence.
My dad and his sister got a father who was involved, who was present, who prayed before meals, who worked hard to provide for them.
My grandma got a husband for 55 years, a man who was faithful and loved her in a way that is rare to see in today’s world.
There were countless other people who gained from my grandpa’s existence. A church family who got a humble leader, a host of family that he loved in so many different ways, and hundreds of others. His funeral was the largest I’d ever been to, filled with people I had no idea he’d affected so profoundly.
There’s a popular worship song that uses this verse in Job as some of its main lyrics.
“You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.”
Today, we have a choice. In our trials and in our rejoicing. In our times of blessings and in our time of loss. The choice is left to us. But, I know what my heart’s answer will be.
Lord, blessed be Your name.