Though he slay me, I will hope in him. (Job 13:15)
In the very midst of life’s deepest pains and most gut-wrenching losses, God loves to gives us a strange, but wonderful gift. We cry out for healing or relief or some circumstantial change. Often he answers those cries. But even more often, he gives us something even more supernatural: praise.
For Shane Barnard, it came in the hospital room at the passing of his father. When the doctor informed Barnard and his mother that his father had died, the flood of pain and shock came. Barnard’s mother wasn’t able to stand and began hyperventilating, so great was the pain and loss. As Barnard held his mother to comfort her, he says, as she wailed, she sang softly underneath her breath, the words of Job 1:21: He gives, he takes, blessed be the name of the Lord.
Barnard says it was a beautiful cry, not only in her tone and pitch, but in her expressing, while in the tide of wave after waves of pain and loss, her deep trust in God. It was “the most painful room,” says Barnard, “but there was so much joy” as they turned their hearts together to worship in the hardest moment of their lives — which became the inspiration for the song “Though You Slay Me.”
Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
It is a supernatural thing — an evidence of the Holy Spirit at work — when praise rises up in us in the midst of our greatest pains. It’s Job 13:15, where Job, in the midst of such great sufferings, makes this beautiful statement of allegiance to God: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” It doesn’t mean the pain is any less; it doesn’t mean the hurt isn’t real. But such a supernaturally inspired declaration of allegiance to God does say, that though this pain may be great, God is greater. My desire to have this pain removed, or this loss restored, must not eclipse my desire for the God who is powerful enough to remove it, or restore it, but is loving me in a way that is greater than I can understand.
Where Else Would We Go?
It brings to mind Peter’s great declaration of allegiance to Jesus in John 6. There Jesus has just scared off a large crowd with some of his most controversial and misunderstood teaching in all the Gospels. The once adoring crowds have raced for the exits — John 6:66 tells us, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” — Jesus says to his disciples, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67).
Peter then answers just as powerfully as he does when Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) — if not more powerfully, given these circumstances. Peter says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
So it is, in our times of greatest pain and loss, when we do not curse the one who is in control, but instead we fall to our knees and utter with Job: You gave, and you have taken away; blessed be your name, Lord. Though you slay me, yet I will praise you.
It is a beautiful thing to praise God in any season, but these are the most beautiful praises of all, when we cling to him in life’s most horrible moments, knowing that he has walked our path and felt our barb and received our nail, and that suffering is precisely the place where we will know him best (Philippians 3:10).
My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes
I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all