There's an example of a gracious father, of our gracious Father, in the Old Testament, but we easily get caught up in so many of the other details of his story that we don't even notice what he has to teach us about fatherhood. That example is, of all persons, Job.
Yes, the very same Job whose children were all killed when Satan came against him in an effort to get him to curse God and die.
Maybe you're wondering how this can be, how a man whose children all died can teach us anything about living as children of the Father or what God goes through to be our Father. But if you're paying attention at the beginning of Job's story, before it gets so messy, it's beautiful.
Job's children are counted among his many blessings. And he's done everything he can to raise them right...and righteous. He's taught them, instructed them, set an example for them. He's guided them, disciplined them. He's prayed for them, forgiven them. He's given them the world, all that he has of it to give, and he's given them his heart; Job's children lack nothing.
But they have a bit of a problem. You see, Job's children like to party. They like to go on wild binges and do crazy things, just for the sheer thrill of doing it. And while Job doesn't necessarily have a problem with his children's desire for a little fun, he does worry a bit about what they might be doing at these parties.
So every time his children go to a party, Job wakes them up early the next morning and purifies them before the Lord. Just in case. Just in case the party got a little wild. Just in case they went a little astray. Just in case they forgot the foundation of all that they are and what it means to be a child of Job. He doesn't yell at them. He doesn't degrade them. He doesn't disown them. He simply purifies them, praying over them and anointing them afresh for the sanctified, righteous lives for which he has painstakingly prepared them, that he has tried so diligently to instill in them.
Sound familiar? It should, for we are Job's children.
We are children who have been raised right. Our Father has done everything He can for us. He's taught us, instructed us, set an example for us by giving us His Son to show the way. He's guided us, disciplined us. He's prayed for us, forgiven us. Again and again. He's given us the world, all that He has good to give, and He's given us His heart; God's children lack nothing.
And yet, we have a bit of a problem. We like to party. We like to go on wild binges and do crazy things, just for the sheer thrill of doing it. We think we know what's best for ourselves or at least what seems good at the time, and we go after it. And while God doesn't necessarily have a problem with our desire for a little fun, He does worry about what we're really doing.
So every time we go to a party, every time we wander away, every time we go astray, God, our Father, comes to purify us. Just in case we got a little wild. Just in case we forgot the foundation of all that we are and what it means to be a child of God.
He doesn't yell at us. He doesn't degrade us. He doesn't disown us. He picks us up, brushes us off, cleanses us, and purifies us, praying over us and anointing us afresh for the sanctified, righteous lives for which He has painstakingly prepared us, for the holy lives to which He has called us. With tender care, He loves us well - out of His own righteousness, for the sake of ours.
I don't think most of us get that. I think it's too easy for us to see the disaster of life, the destruction, the desolation. It's too easy for us to see the fires and the storms and the boils and the disease. It's too easy for us to see the struggles and the heartache and the despair, just as we so easily do in Job's story.
It's why we have to be intentional about looking deeper, about taking it all in. About seeing what it is that Job teaches us, not just about ourselves when trials come, but about our Father. For Job was a good, good father, and we? We are all Job's children.