Lessons From a Great Wind
by Pastor George Van Alstine

The Biblical book of Job is the story of a man who had everything, and then lost everything. Whatever bad things could happen to a person seemed to hit Job all at once: nomads from the south attacked and plundered his farmland; a big fire burned up the sheep shelter, killing both sheep and shepherds; an army from the east raided his camel caravan and killed his employees. Finally, all of his children were killed in one great calamity. This climactic event was described by an eye witness in these graphic words:

“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and suddenly, a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are all dead.” (Job 1:18-19)

Last Wednesday evening, a great wind from the desert swept through the mountain passes and tore into Altadena, and we all felt like Job. As I write this, we’re seven days away from our great wind, and some of us still don’t have electricity. Others are talking with insurance companies and roofing contractors. The Children’s Center’s youngest group are trying to carry on their program in the church while they are waiting for Southern California Edison to repair electric lines necessary for their heating unit to work.

We all have our “great wind stories,” and I’m sure that when we tell them to our grandkids years from now, the winds will be even fiercer and the damage dramatically magnified. Right now, my dominant memory is not from the night of the storm (though I now have a vivid concept of what “howling winds” are), but from the night after. Judy and I sat in our unheated bedroom, with a couple of candles lit, trying to read by flashlight from books we weren’t really interested in, and the overwhelming reality of it all hit me, the true tragedy—NO TV! Several times, I absent-mindedly reached for the remote before I realized my folly. How much that great wind had taken away from me!

Job had never experienced TV, but I think I can safely say that his loss was greater than mine. And yet, rather than grumble and complain, Job came out with one of the all-time most profound expressions of faith:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

It’s one thing to say what Job said, but it’s another to actually live out this God-oriented attitude, that in all states and circumstances we are able to say “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Actually, the rest of the Book of Job, including his famous dialogues with his “friends,” culminating in his dramatic encounter with God himself, explain the sometimes-agonizing process he went through as he realized the implications of his earlier faith-confession. Finally, his work of redemption and renewal complete, “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12). Once he learned that he could “bless the Lord” without all his people and possessions,” the Lord let him have them again.

The Lord let me have my TV back without putting me through all Job had to suffer. Blessed be the name of the Lord!