‘Behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead’ (Job 1:19).
Open places of the desert, with few or no trees, are conducive to very strong winds. A blast of wind just before a rainstorm can bring down a dozen or more electric pylons.
Mountainous areas where some of the rocks are exposed to the sun’s searing heat and others are in the shade, are favourable areas for whirlwinds to form. A whirlwind can easily raise a heavy ladder, needing two men to lift, and let it drop the other side of a 2.5 metre high wall.
A series of disasters struck Job’s herds and flocks (Job 1), making him a penniless man. But none could compare with the last one, in which a great wind from the desert destroyed all his children, making him a heartbroken man.
Disasters often come without warning. From in the house, Job’s children never saw the fast-approaching dust and they never heard the howl of the wind till it was upon them. Job never expected such a reward for his righteousness, but we see Job neither weeping nor wailing, but worshipping: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’.
He could have railed against God for taking his all, but instead he gives God his rightful due. Faith recognises that God is sovereign and all-wise and full of love. Faith believes that Romans 8:28 — ‘and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose’ — is real.
Faith is ready even to rejoice in setbacks. Such was the experience of Habakkuk: ‘Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labour of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls — yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation’ (3:17,18).
When God takes away his blessings, love says, ‘Is there more I can give?’ Love may weep because the trial is painful, nevertheless it will reserve the very best for the Saviour (John 12:3).
Stephen Baggott is director of the Sahara Desert Mission, Niger.