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Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Blessed Be The
Name Of The Lord"

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"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).

Yesterday Brooksyne and I had lunch in the Lancaster Bible College cafeteria following a meeting at the school. As we, from another generation, sat at our dining table I observed the students as they conversed together and considered how much these young people could relate to their peers at Virginia Tech.

LBC, like other colleges and universities, has especially been touched by the recent massacre that took place on the campus of Virginia Tech. On Tuesday evening they held a special prayer service in the Chapel.  We join millions in praying that God will, in His ever-faithful and often mysterious ways, pour His grace upon the many who have been affected.   May they experience God's peace and consolation at this very difficult time.

"Blessed Be Your Name" is a song that has blessed many of us.  It's a great exclamation of praise with a lively, contagious tune. But as a Bible student I especially appreciate the thoughtful, Scripturally-based words.  In fact the song is prompted by the daily verse.  Last night on the news I saw a group of students at Virginia Tech gathered in a circle singing this powerful song.  I'm sure it expanded their understanding of these words as they expressed faith in the midst of their practically unthinkable experience.

There's a verse in the song I would like to consider in today's message:

"On the road marked with suffering.
Though there's pain in the offering.
Blessed be Your name."

There are certainly those periods in life when we all travel "on the road marked with suffering." Sometimes there are experiences that make international news due to the immensity and sheer evil of the impact, such as 9/11 or Monday's massacre.  Most times they are locally felt but with no less intensity for those left to deal with the ongoing pain of such loss.

Shortly after we married Brooksyne had a cousin a couple years younger than her that was murdered by her husband.  It was a gruesome murder followed by his taking his own life.  The pain thrust upon the family is permanently etched in their memories.  Since they're believers they will one day be freed of this lifelong pain when they reunite with their daughter on the other side.

Not one of us escapes the road marked with suffering, although the severity varies with each individual and through each phase of life. Job is an example of one who suffered intensely, yet recognized, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away."   This is a remarkable faith statement. We have no problem theologically with a God who gives but we cringe at the notion that the Lord also takes away, particularly in what we witnessed Monday in Virginia. This is a great mystery of sovereignty and providence, but God's overall control must be asserted.

Following this statement Job declared, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." That's praise in the midst of suffering.

But the line in the song that especially intrigues me states, "Though there's pain in the offering."  Have you experienced this?  I can't say for sure what the songwriter meant when he wrote these words, but I have a pretty good idea. I believe he's reflecting on just how hard it is to offer sincere praise to God and declare, "Blessed be Your Name" while walking the road marked by suffering.  As that group of Virginia Tech students gathered and sang the song they surely knew the pain in the offering as they offered a sacrifice of praise in a way they'd never done before.

But this worship is just what Job demonstrates so powerfully. In the previous verse, following a severe wave of affliction, "He fell to the ground in worship."  A commentary in a Study Bible states that "Job reacted to the disaster that happened to him with intense grief, but also with a humility that submitted to God and continued to worship Him in the midst of extreme adversity. Job teaches how faithful believers should face life's calamities. Though we may experience severe sufferings and unexplainable affliction, we should pray for grace to accept what God allows to come upon us." *

Today some of you are especially traveling the road marked by suffering. Certainly many, many at Virginia Tech are.  I encourage you to worship God in the midst of your trial.  My heart chooses to say, "Lord, blessed be Your Name!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we do again pray for the many grieving at Virginia Tech and also for those dealing with suffering that we are not aware of but is no less painful to them.  When we're walking down the road of suffering You renew our hope and brighten our spirit as we remember that Your steadfast love never ceases even in the midst of affliction.  We do not walk alone, but You, Man of Sorrows, walk along with us and greatly identify with our suffering.  Your mercies are new every day because You are a loving, faithful God. You give strength to the weary, increase the power of the weak, and comfort the sorrowful.  You help us to soar on wings like eagles and rise above the troubling circumstances that surround our lives as we await Your soon return. With thanksgiving and praise we say, "Blessed be Your Name!"

Stephen's note: The message is again sent early this morning as we have an opportunity to meet with another group of Christian businessmen and share our chaplaincy ministry.

Brooksyne's note: Not at all surprisingly among those killed Monday at Virginia Tech were several with a testimony of faith in Christ. We are especially praying for those who minister and for an open door of receptivity among the living. This extremely sad event will harden some hearts but soften others. Yesterday we heard from a reader who shared of a student who had been killed who had been a part of the same campus fellowship group he was had been a part of.

"Blessed Be Your Name" was written by Matt Redman and has an uncanny ability to be appropriate in a variety of settings.  Many of us have sung it as joyful praise in our churches.  The most interesting time I ever heard it was at a wedding I participated in.  It was sung as the ceremony concluded and the bride and groom departed down the aisle! It really is a fitting song in this context for as a couple embarks upon the journey of marriage they most certainly will have good times and hard times!  Yet what power when a mutual determination is made regardless of the circumstances of life that a couple will embrace praise and declare together, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

Here's an online audio version of "Blessed Be Your Name" (mp3) you can listen to.  Matt Redman  (the songwriter's website)

* Note on Job 1:20-22 in the Full Life Study Bible.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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