Read Job 1:16
While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
• How do you respond when your livelihood is threatened?
• Our God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. He doesn't change even when our circumstances do. Do you believe this? (Why or why not?)
• While society may view our jobs as who we are, our true identity is in Jesus Christ. What steps can we take to grasp this?
Unaware of what was happening in the spiritual realm, Job went about his activities as usual. Imagine him sitting with his wife around the fire, watching the sunrise and discussing the day ahead. All the kids were heading to their oldest brother's house for a feast. Perhaps the parents chuckled to themselves about how the siblings that fought so much when they were little had now grown to be the best of friends. A group of workers herded the cattle and donkeys to one side of the land, while shepherds guided the sheep to another pasture. Just a typical day on Job's ranch.
Arrival of the first message shattered the serene ordinariness as Job learned that his cattle and donkeys and the servants caring for them were all gone. The first impact of bad news shakes us up. It sets our mind racing. Reeling from the news, Job thought, How can this be? I just saw them this morning. Why would the Sabeans attack? Surely some have survived. At least we still have the sheep.
And then the second messenger arrived. A fire from heaven had consumed the sheep and the shepherds, save one. Now he knew the cold hard facts: his livelihood was completely gone.
It's easy to imagine the heartache Job felt. For most of us, our finances and livelihood are close to our hearts. Our careers become part of our identities, often the first thing a new acquaintance asks about. Livelihood represents temporal security for us and our families, it's how we provide for food, shelter, clothing, smartphones, and all of the other necessities of life. Job loss and business failures can devastate us.
Although our losses may not be as complete as Job's, most of us will experience losses related to our livelihood at some point. Whether the loss comes through a pink slip from our boss or a fire that destroys our business, facing losses requires a strong measure of faith and trust in our Lord.
When we (Pam's family) had to close down our family business, discouragement and worry were huge temptations for me. My mind would fill with the "What ifs" each night--what if the business property doesn't sell? What if we can't pay the mortgage this month? I learned to fight these "What ifs" with reminders that we worship Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. He knew that we had a mortgage to pay and four children to feed and clothe. And provide He did, often in amazing ways.
We also had to remind ourselves that we are not our possessions or our jobs. It was indeed a little awkward when we would meet someone new and not have an easy, quick answer to the "What do you do?" question. We couldn't say, "We worry and we wait," though that felt at times like what we were doing. Keeping our focus on Jesus was a powerful reminder that our livelihood is a temporary thing of this world and not who we really are. Rather, our identity rests in Christ, and we must look to Him as we navigate our uncertain future.
Lord, thank You for providing for me. Help me to continue looking to You as my provider. Amen.