|by Chris Schroeder|
There is a story in the Canterbury Tales about a king who takes a wife from a pig farm. She is so grateful to him, and so in love with him, she does everything he asks and serves all of his whims. When he takes their babies away from her he tells her that it is for the good of the kingdom, she agrees with him and lets him kill them. Eventually he takes everything away that he has given her and sends her back to the pig farm.
Years later the king is throwing a ball for the new queen he is about to marry. He commands that the pig farm girl come back to the castle to be one of the head servants at the ball. The pig farm girl complies and returns to the castle.
At the end of the story the king introduces the girl to the princess, and her brother, and announces that they are actually the pig farm girls children and that her dedication to the King has won her back her crown and back into the kingdom with her family.
When I think about Job, I think about this story, I think about me, I think about all of us.
When working through this tale, one of my high school students asked me what the girls deal was? Why did she put up with the King? I thought for a moment and said, "Yeah, the King seems to come off as a real jerk, but did he have the whole thing planned when he took the farm girl as his wife?"
She thought about it for a moment, "Well...I don't know. He had something planned when he took away her kids."
"Do you think he always loved her?"
"Who is changed by the end of the story? The king, or the farm girl?"
You see, the farm girl was always a good and faithful servant. The King was always the same man, but the heart of the farm girl; what she knew about herself, and what she knew about the King is what changed.
I struggle with this a lot. I feel as though God either strips things away from me, or asks me to give everything up once I feel like he has restored everything I once had.
I cannot say that I am a good and faithful servant. I cannot say that I don't grow angry with God and ask him why He does this to me. "If everything is in your control, and I am trying the best that I can to do what I need to do to pay my bills and get through my days here on earth, why does it have to be so hard and seem so impossible?"
I don't know what is impossible for you. Maybe it's impossible to pay your bills and feed all the little ones around you. Maybe it's impossible for you to get out of bed in the morning because your body is so wracked with pain. Maybe it's impossible to find a job or face terrible work conditions...Maybe you feel as though you cannot go on another minute, let alone another day...
As the Genie says in the movie The Return of Jafar "Don't worry Abu, he's a Genie, and Genies can't kill anyone....*cough* *cough* but you'd be surprised what you can live through."
Maybe like Job, the Lord favors you, and you are blessed, you have no troubles filling up your gratitude journal, or tithing with a peaceful heart. Maybe you go to work everyday looking forward to it because you have a good boss and you are paid fairly.
But in a fleeting moment, you can be struck down with sickness. A home can go up in flames, someone can swipe your debit card, or steal your identity. You can lose a loved one. Nothing is certain in this lifetime, but all things will come together for your good, the glory of the Lord.
The King gave, and took away. The Lord gives, and takes away. (Job 1:21 Paraphrased) Everything belongs to Him. And when the things you hold dear begin to slip through your fingers, and the last thread of hope you have to hang on to is His promises. Go to the banquet to serve at the table of the King. Hold tight good and faithful servant, your heart is being changed for your good and His glory. If you do not find your reward in this life, you will find it in the next.
You have a job every morning that you wake up. Put your feet on the floor. Wash your face. And ask Him, "How can I serve you today?"
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)