While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep…(Job said) the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 1:16, 21b-22
Years ago, Bill Cosby did a comedy skit about cattle that had contracted hoof-and-mouth disease. It was a very funny routine, and almost everyone who heard it ended up laughing.
No one is laughing at last week’s outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in England.
The bad news is that in a few short days, 200 cattle were put down, the government banned the movement of all livestock across England, and the European Commission banned the export of British meat, milk, and live animals. The worse news is the fact that hoof-and-mouth can spread from animal to animal by saliva, milk or droppings, infected feed, through the air, and by vehicles driving along the road. The worst news is that the illness may have been deliberately started.
The effect on the farming community has been devastating. Sixty-year-old John Gunner told how his animals had sickened and died before his eyes. Remembering one of his favorites, John wept as he said, “My old bull Ned, he was not very well. He was like having a pet dog. He was about eight years old. His father was one of the winners at Smithfield Market. He had great pedigree. He was so gentle.”
John, along with the other farmers who have been affected, may well have felt like Job who was told that fire from heaven was destroying their livelihood and their flocks.
It is my hope that John may carry this cross as well as Job did. You remember what the Scriptures say about the unfortunate Biblical hero: (Job said) “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
With those words, Job showed that he had faith. He had the kind of faith each of us needs, especially when pains and problems come crashing into our lives. It’s the kind of faith that continues to believe God is a loving Father in good times and in bad. It’s the kind of faith that believes God continues to love His people even when they don’t understand exactly why nasty things are happening to them.
It’s the kind of faith that says, “If God has loved us enough to give His Son to suffer and die as our ransom, He’s not likely to turn on us or abuse us.” It’s the kind of faith that I pray may be yours today and always.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh will do their best to drive a wedge between us. At such times, grant me a faith that knows You are in ultimate control and will lead us through doubts and difficulties. In the Name of Jesus I pray it, Amen.
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