A massive early winter storm has crippled the cattle ranches in South Dakota, with losses of 100,000 cattle. With each mature cow going for around $1500, one can only imagine the long term impact this will have. It is a stark reminder that we live in a fallen world where catastrophe can come in the blink of an eye. The ultimate question is how will we Biblically respond to such crises in our own lives when they come?

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Job immediately comes to mind when great calamity is pressed upon us. We refer back to Job time and again because his loss was immense.

13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,
15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
19 and 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, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1:13-17 ESV)

We weep with Job, yet we are also encouraged by his incredible faithfulness.

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.
21 And he 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.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22 ESV)

Even so, Job still had room to grow, for the pressures of his trial forced out the question we all have retreated to at some time or another. Why? God did not answer the way Job wanted. Rather, He exerts His authority over all of creation, and Job is further humbled. He then repents in dust and ashes.

1 Then Job answered the LORD and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6 ESV)

This account is not yet over, for the Sovereign God restores Job.

10 And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.
12 And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14 And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch.
15 And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.
16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations.
17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days. (Job 42:10-17 ESV)

Some will argue that things don’t always turn out so well for the elect of God. After all, Abel was murdered in the beginning and the great Bible translator William Tyndale was strangled and burned. This is where I delight to expose the critic and blasphemer, for our Lord was crucified but rose in great glory. Likewise, all of His beloved sheep who have died are present with him now and will soon enjoy a glorified body that surpasses all of our expectations.

Therefore, when we are trying to encourage those who are going through a great loss, let us weep with them as they seek to recover from such a crisis. Might we be used of God to help those poor souls heal by increasing our service to them while leaving out all of the cheap platitudes. This will require humbling ourselves and giving up our daily comforts for a season, but many deep long-term relationships are forged in the furnace of tribulation.

May our Great Comforter, The Holy Spirit, pour forth His encouragement and conviction upon us in such times. To look elsewhere for solace is idolatry and only leads to guilt and despair.