|A QUICK LOOK BACK|
Last week we began the story of Job. This week we read on to finish this important story which raises many questions about the nature of suffering and how we as God’s people react to it. Some of you may have asked yourselves this past week “Why are we jumping out of order? Job does not follow Ruth in the Bible!” You are correct! If you will remember back to the beginning of this Coast to Coast journey, we are reading through the Bible chronologically, taking these stories roughly in the order they happened. The Bible is a reference library, which usually files Job with poetry and wisdom writings such as Psalms and Proverbs. We choose to take it now.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The big questions of Job (which rhymes with “robe”) have to do with the causes of human suffering, God’s role in it, and our response to it. How do we respond when our lives fall apart? We first search for reasons why. Why is this happening to me? What is the right response for a person of faith when we hurt? Has God let us down? What is the right way for us to respond to a friend who is going through a tough time? The Book of Job is significant because it dares to challenge the conventional teaching of scripture up to that time. Moses in Deuteronomy taught that suffering and curses were the promised consequences of sin. Blessings and prosperity were the promised result of righteousness and obedience. Human logic (and Job’s friends) assumed then that because there was suffering in Job’s life, there must have been great sin which caused it. Job, though, is innocent. God is so proud of Job’s faith and righteousness that he allows Satan to test Job. God has every confidence that no amount of loss, tragedy, or suffering will break his faith. Suffering may not rob us of our faith, but it sure causes us to question. Job desires a face to face with God and in the end gets his wish.
Many people complain that Job does not give us neat prepackaged answers to these questions, and isn’t that the whole point of Job and his friends? In the face of real suffering, there are no neat prepackaged answers that will instantly make everything better. Job does give us clear instruction on what NOT to do. Our suffering friends do not need advice, cheap answers, and pat greeting card clichés. They need understanding, support, and companionship above all. Don’t know what to say to a hurting friend? Perhaps you don’t need to say anything at all. Just stay near. Job’s friends did their best work when they patiently sat beside him in silence for seven straight days. That is love.
We will be jumping around again by the end of the week as we begin I Samuel. The prophet Samuel has been described as the “Last Judge” ruling as Israel chooses its first king. Open yourself to the glory, holiness, and mystery as God calls the young boy Samuel to serve. God is calling to you, too. Listen closely and have a great week!
Keep reading! I’ll see you in the Bible!
WEEK 14 Reading Schedule:
Apr 2 Job 24-28 Wisdom Debated
Apr 3 Job 29-31 Job’s Life Before and After Suffering
Apr 4 Job 32-34 Young Elihu Speaks Up
Apr 5 Job 35-37 Elihu Continues to Speak
Apr 6 Job 38-39 God Confronts Job
Apr 7 Job 40-42 Job Confesses, God Forgives Job but Condemns His Friends
Apr 8 1 Samuel 1-3 Birth and Calling of Samuel