Have you ever wondered what the term hunky-dory meant? I am that person, and the only person I know, that wonders about these things. What in the world is a hunky and what does Dory have to do with it? Google was invented for people like me; like a three-year-old playing the endless “why?” game. I don’t know what people did before the internet search. Did they just wonder?

The term Hunky Dory appeared first in a description of a game that was played in Amsterdam and later used in New York slang sometime in the 1850’s. “Hunkey” is a Dutch term meaning “In a safe position”. It was used in a publication regarding the economy, and also a sailor’s term. Meaning “safe”. It reached common colloquialism, when it was the term referring to “home base” in a game of tag. When you were Hunky Dory, you were safe.

I am attached to my expectations. I move through life with a relative expectation of safety.  Most of the time my day-to-day life is Hunky Dory. It is this relative safety and ease that I am attached to. My family is safe and in relatively good health, I have come to expect it. No serious crime has ever befallen me. I am in a “safe position”.

But all of it can disappear in a moment. In Jewish law, the allotted time to mourn was 30 days. David mourned the loss of his child one week and then he stood up and washed himself and he ate. In modern culture, after a week, you might still be setting a place for that person you lost. The mourning process hasn’t even started for people who are still in shock. In older cultures they understood transience.

Accepting Adversity

There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. And Satan was among them. Job 1:6

God asked Satan where he had been, to which Satan responded that he had been wandering about the earth. There is an unseen assumption here: that God apparently understands Satan’s purpose is to antagonize mankind. It’s like He’s asking a mischievous child, ‘what have you been up to now?’ Then, God almost appears to help Satan by pointing to Job. He brags just a bit. Job was upright and blameless, however, Satan says he is only faithful because God placed a barrier around him and never let Satan touch him. (Insert me here, I am definitely attached to those hedges!!)

So, God appears to make a deal with Satan. You would think God never plays games with Satan, and yet, he appears to here, and he uses his good servant Job as the ball. It feels cruel, especially seeing as Job is not told about it.

Have you ever felt like maybe God decided to point you out to Satan? It feels like so much is going wrong in your life, you wonder if some cosmic conversation happened without your being aware of it like God decided to let “Satan have his way with you”?

He lost everything

One day, with no warning or reason, Job suddenly lost all his possessions and family. One servant after another breathlessly arrives to inform him of his devastating losses. Everything he had was gone.

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head and he fell to the ground and worshiped. Job 1:20

Worship was Job’s “Hunky Dory” it was the first thing he ran to. Prostrating himself before God was his “safe position” Tragedy is not a respecter of persons. It can happen to me as easily as anyone else. Job did nothing to earn it. He was only the instrument Satan used to cause God to doubt himself.

Job’s Defence

The Bible says the first thing he  did was he arose and fell on his face and worshiped. The second thing was something he did not do and that was he did not curse God. He understood impermanence.  

Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:20

What a blow to Satan. Job was the secret weapon God used to strike at Satan’s pride. Obviously, Job was unaware of the effect his reaction had on the spirit world. Job still had his devastating losses to deal with. As I am reading this, it feels like Job has just finished burying his last child. While a second conversation concerning him is going on in heaven in Chapter 2. Satan is picking his pride up off the pavement and wants a double-or-nothing rematch. We all know the result: Job’s health is taken away.

Satan has mild success with the second battle. His wife, who is also in the throes of bitter grief, contributes to his pain, instead of being supportive which doesn’t derail Job. He wishes he’d never been born, even wonders why God let it happen, but doesn’t blame God. At this point Job’s ‘friends’ arrive on the scene and wear him down with accusations and advice until he finally begins to wander from his incredible self-control.

Sometimes well-meaning people can try to “make you feel better” by telling you hurtful things like God has a purpose for allowing you to suffer such hardship.


Job removed himself from the turbulence by understanding detachment.

The second arrow Job had in his quiver was detachment. Not the type of emotional detachment that produces despondency, but the ability to remove himself from the turbulence of the situation. This is what Job clung to. Detachment does not mean you don’t have emotion for those you love, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t grieve for a long time. It is moving through life with the understanding that all of the parts of your life are temporary.

If you can accept impermanence you can accept losses with more grace. You can enjoy each moment as they happen instead of dreading the moments and milestones. One of the greatest gifts impermanence gives you, is gratitude. If you can understand life is transient, you understand the people you love may not always be there. Your job is impermanent. Where would you be if you lost your stability? You can appreciate the people and things you do have in your life.

Worship is your “Hunky Dory”

One Comment

  1. There are a lot of good thoughts here! I haven’t really thought about Impermanence in that way before. That is a very important concept for us to grasp. I guess my thinking has more been along the lines of “put on your 100 year glasses” – what is going to really matter at that point?
    Your mentioning David grieving made me think about the instructions given to Aaron after his sons Nadab and Abihu were killed after they offered a strange fire in Lev. 10. Aaron and the other sons were not allowed to grieve AT ALL. I can’t imagine how hard that would have been but Aaron did understand that there were more important things going on than simply the loss of his sons.

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