A Christian writer recently posted an article in an online journal (To Save a Life) averring that we Christians should stop using the phrase "I have been blessed" in relationship to our vocation or job. For example, 'my company has been blessed, our business was up 50 percent this year'. His argument is that God does not view our accumulation of wealth as the primary goal of our lives. Financial blessings are not the direct consequence of the Lord's grace.
This came to mind when I read the opening chapters in the Book of Job. Satan and God are having a conversation about Job, who has led a very successful life.
Satan says, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions bave increased in the lands. But stretch out your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face."
The Lord then gives Satan permission. "Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!"
So Satan has Job's cattle and donkeys stolen, burns the sheep and servants, and kills all his children in a massive windstorm that collapses the house in which they are feasting.
Job's reaction: he tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on his knees in worship. "Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?" In a sense, his faith in God is so foundational, that all acts could be considered God's acts and are a blessing.
All of these thoughts come together solely because I read these two pieces within the same 48 hours, and it felt rather coincidental. I have never read -- or heard of -- the Save a Live publication. And to be honest, today was the first time I have ever read Job. I am not a trained theologian. So I am not sanguine or comfortable with any conclusion.
But the two readings raise plenty of issues around God's hand in daily living -- and the basic debate around free will vs. determinism.
Book of Job, Chapter 1