READ: Read the passage slowly.
JOB 24:1-10 (Remember! The text is from The Message bible.)
“But if Judgment Day isn’t hidden from the Almighty, why are we kept in the dark? There are people out there getting by with murder–stealing and lying and cheating. They rip off the poor and exploit the unfortunate, Push the helpless into the ditch, bully the weak so that they fear for their lives. The poor, like stray dogs and cats, scavenge for food in back alleys. They sort through the garbage of the rich, eke out survival on handouts. Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street; they’ve no place to lay their heads. Exposed to the weather, wet and frozen, they huddle in makeshift shelters. Nursing mothers have their babies snatched from them; the infants of the poor are kidnapped and sol. They go about patched and threadbare; even the hard workers go hungry.”
THINK: Read the passage again, noting the words or phrases that touch you.
(1) Why do these phrases touch you?
(2) What is the heart of God like for these situations?
Though God stays hidden in order to let human beings be the autonomous beings he created them to be, he delights in bringing justice. Slowly read aloud Isaiah 1:5 twice:
My deliverance arrives on the run, my salvation right on time. I’ll bring justice to the peoples. Even faraway islands will look to me and take hope in my saving power.
Ponder your heart’s response to this.
PRAY: Ask God to intervene in situations you think are unjust, small or big. If nothing comes to you, look at a newspaper or watch a newscast. Then come before God and ask for people to be treated with fairness and goodness and kindness.
LIVE: While you pray, hold in front of you a symbol of the world’s troubles, perhaps a newspaper or newsmagazine, a globe or map. Hold it up for God’s light to permeate.
I recently restarting reading Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado. This devotional reading made me think of a question that he asks in the first chapter of the book (or rather that was asked to him before he wrote the book). “When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?” He goes on to say: “We are given a choice…an aooprtunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church?” We need to remember, as Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says, “We are God’s masterpeice. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us a long ago.”
Given that I am alive today and not at any other point in time in history, I have to conclude that I have a purpose TODAY. That this life is the one God intended for me to live and that I ought to find out – from Him – what He wanted me to be doing with it, and then DO IT.
Given that I am a Christian, one can conclude that I claim to have given my life over to following Jesus Christ. What should that look like? Well, Jesus had no place to lay his head or no home to call his own and no job at which he worked to make money, yet the Bible never mentions that he ever went hungry, had no place to sleep, or ever had to worry about providing for himself. That’s a pretty radical way to live. Then, he went and called 12 other men to follow him into that same kind of life. Granted, things didn’t quite work out the way they all had hoped with one of those 12, but 12 were called nonetheless. He didn’t just call single men, either. He called people who had families and jobs and responsibilities and told them to drop everything and follow him. And THEY DID! That means that they were signing on for the same kind of worldly-uncertain existence that Jesus was living – the kind of existence that simply is not prudent for a family man. Jesus didn’t even promise that their families would be taken care of. Yet, he still called them and they still went.
And what did they do? They went around reaching out to the most marginalized people of the area, healing the sick, comforting the hurting, touching the untouchable, basically talking to the most over-looked, most-ostracized people in the land. Because Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Because the people who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick and hurting.
What should that mean for us today? How can we take a cue from Jesus and reach out the marginalized, the ostracized, and the left-behind? What if we all really practiced what we preach and live like we believed that everything we have came from Our Father above and that He gave it to us in order to allow us to use it to bless others, knowing that Our Father never runs out of provisions, that He cares about even the sparrows and He always makes sure they have plenty to eat, and that He cares about us even more than the sparrows? What if we prayed, Like Jabez did, that God would bless us so that we could be a blessing to others, and then, we went out and blessed others? What if we prayed that God would show us where He has already blessed us and then that He would show us how he watned us to use those blessings to bless others? What if we stopped being Dead Seas and started being canals through which all of God’s blessings could flow rather than stock up, and then stagnate and die? Would there be 1.75 billion poor people or 1 billion hungry people in the world?
What if we were honest with ourselves and stopped calling what we’re doing “being prudent” and started calling it what it is: afraid that God won’t take care of us? And then, once we were honest with oursevles, how about we try living life as if we were going to take God at His Word, trusting that He meant it when He said He would take care of us, that He loved us, and that we really can live a life in which we FEAR NOT?! How different would our lives look then, I wonder.
Dear Heavenly Father, You are so good to us. We could never thank you enough for all the blessings you have given us, and I know that we will never know how much we truly have to thank you for, this side of heaven. But Lord, today, I want to thank you that I have never once been hungry or homeless or had to worry about where my next meal or full night’s sleep was going to come from. I have never really been sick. I have always had clean water to drink. I have never had to scrounge around in a trash heap for my food or for things to sell to provide food for my family. I have never been enslaved or even had to worry about it. I have never had to contemplate selling my body in order to have money to feed my family. Worse yet, I have never had to contemplate selling one of my children in order to provide a better life for one of the other children. I have never had to worry about whether or not I would be stoned for praising you. I have always had a Bible (or more than one) and I have never had to fear for my life for carrying it. In so many ways, I have never had to fear for anything. So, forgive me Lord, for when I doubt you and for thinking that you might forget about me. And forgive me Lord, for those times when I have taken your blessings for granted, thinking that they might run out or that they were not enough, for I have never had to worry about not having enough.
Lord, having had such a small taste of what it can be like to wonder about tomorrow, help me remember to always be grateful for what I have. Show me where I can be a blessing to those who do not have as much as me, and help me to bless them in such a way that they do not feel as though they are being pitied. Help me to remember that pity is terribly condescending and that it feels horrible. Help me to remember that a funnel has no say-so on what gets passed through it, and it has no hold on or claim to what passes through it. It’s only job is to funnel. Help me, Lord, to be a good funnel, trusting that I will get what you have planned for me to get, when you have planned for me to get it. Not earlier or later, but right on time. No more and no less, but always enough. For you are the Creator of the Universe and I am an image-bearer. You loved me from before the foundations of the Earth, and I can trust you to provide for all my needs, according to your riches in glory. Help me, Lord, to remember this when you call me to let go of more of the blessings than I feel comfortable releasing.
All these things I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.