Day Sixty-Five: The Mystery of a Mighty God

READ: Read the passage. In Job’s response to his recent tragedy, notice the powerful feelings that underlie his words: fear, anger, grief, and hope.

JOB 9:2-4, 14-23
(2-4) “The question is, ‘How can mere mortals get right with God?’ If we wanted to bring our cases before him, what would chance would we have? Not one in a thousand! God’s wisdom is deep, God’s power so immense, who could take him on and come out in one piece?
(14-20) “So now could I ever argue with him, construct a defense that would influence God? Even though I’m innocent, I could never prove it; I can only throw myself on the Judge’s mercy. If I called on God and he himself answered me, then, and only then, would I believe that he’d heard me. As it is, he knocks me about from pillar to post, beating me up, black-and-blue, for no good reason. He won’t even let me catch my breath, piles bitterness upon bitterness. If it’s a question of who’s stronger, he wins, hands down! If it’s a question of justice, who’ll serve him the subpoena? Even though innocent, anything I say incriminates me; blameless as I am, my defense just makes me sound worse.
(21-23) “Believe me, I’m blameless. I don’t understand whats going on. I hate my life! Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude that God destroys the good right along with the bad. When calamity hits and brings sudden death, he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent.”

THINK: What phrase in Job’s lament stands out to you? Spend time meditating on it. Mentally chew it the way you would chew a piece of gum–repeat it to yourself, pausing each time to see where it leads your mind and emotions.

PRAY: Keeping your phrase in mind, picture God in the room with you. How do you relate to his presence? Maybe you sit in reverence at his power, wisdom, and justice, realizing you’ve forgotten or minimized those qualities lately. Maybe you feel anguish like Job. Maybe you open up to your desire for a rescuer, for Christ’s mercy.
At the end of this time, recall what this experience held for you. Write down for future reference anything that seemed significant.

LIVE: During the next week, before your begin your times of prayerful reading, recall your picture of God in the room. Recollect who he was to you and retain this image of him in your mind during each prayer time. Let that aspect of God mingle with the God you relate to during the week.

Such powerful words Job uses here. There was a time when I would have thought that talking this way to the Creator would have been tantamount to heresy, to begging God to strike me down. There have been times when I have felt this way that I’m not sure, had I said what I really wanted to say, that He wouldn’t have struck me down. But, the longer I walk through this life, and the more hardships I see and live through, the more convinced I become that being just this honest with God, yet not disrespectful of His Power and Glory and Majesty, are precisely what He wants from me. After all, would I not be this honest with my earthly father? If I had been as hurt and betrayed as Job felt, wouldn’t I spill my guts to my earthly father, in hopes that he’d be able to help me, or comfort me. Of course, I would. And if I would be this honest with my earthly father, when he can’t possibly know what I’m thinking, why wouldn’t I be this honest with my Heavenly Father when He already knows it all anyway.

Likewise, if I was going to a physician or a counselor, wouldn’t I also share all that I could, in hopes of finding a cure, or receiving some sort of help or therapy or advice that would lead me out of the darkness I was in? And yet, how often do I refuse to go to God?

But…that’s not what strikes me about this passage. What sticks with me here is how Job accuses God of being aloof from the despair of the innocent. I don’t know that I can even count the number of times I’ve felt that way since our mess started. Like God was just sitting up there on his throne on high, completely untouched by all the heartache and pain down here, particularly mine.

I’m not sure that aloof is the right word. At least, not now. But, it’s precisely the word I’d have used as recently as about 6 months ago. I don’t believe that God is aloof. I think that he is saddened by the fact that His Creation lives with the effects of sin, every day. I think it pains him when those who were created in his image have to suffer. But, because He is God, He can take those hard times and touch circumstances and use them to transform us more into the image of Christ and to do so in such a way that it is utterly unmistakable that HE is the one doing the work!

I heard something in class today, that helps me keep this in perspective. I’ve known it all along I guess, but had forgotten somewhere along the way.
Christ suffered here on earth, what makes us think we won’t.
Something else I believe: if there’s no God, then there is no hope that any of the suffering we experience will ever make any sense or ever come to any good use.
Where I am now is at the point that I am choosing every day to have faith that God is telling me the truth. I am choosing every day to picture God, sitting in the room with me, telling me He understands that what I’m going through is hard, but also that I can do it. I will make it through this. I picture Him telling me that He wants me to trust Him with all my ugliness since He’s already seen it, and loves me anyway. I picture Him asking me to share with Him those thoughts very thoughts that would make me sound just like Job does in this passage, and trust that He is not going to kick me out of the kingdom or tell me that I can’t come Home when He calls me. I picture Him asking me to believe Him, to believe in Him and to have Faith that I can believe the Bible is true when it says He loves me and does not show partiality. I picture Him saying to Satan, “Have you seen my servant, Patty? Look at her.” Then, I picture Satan looking at him, saying, “well, of course, you’ve protected her for her whole life. Why wouldn’t she love you. Take her life away from her. Take her husband away from her. Then see if she doesn’t turn her back on you.” I picture the same scenario with my husband in Job’s place, with my children in Job’s place. Then, I pray for strength to carry on, trusting that God will not leave us or forsake us, and that He will trade our ashes for beauty, one day. It has been promised, and I will choose to trust it daily, until I can learn to rest in it.

Day Sixty-Two: God Gives, God Takes

READ:  Read the passage, noticing God’s involvement in the story and circling God each time he is mentioned.

JOB 1:1, 8-11, 21

(1) Job was a man who lived in Uz.  He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion….

(8) God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job?  There’s no one quite like him–honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

(9-10) Satan retorted, “so do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart?  Why, no one ever had it so good!  You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does–he can’t lose!

(11) “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his?  He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”….

(21) Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.           God gives, God takes.  God’s name be ever blessed.

THINK:  Notice the interaction between God and Satan.  Does it bother you that God is bartering with Satan with Job’s life?  Is this the God you know?

Notice the words of Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.  God gives, God takes.  God’s name be ever blessed.”  If you lost everything–family, fortune, and eventually your health–would you be able to say such a thing?  Why or why not?  What would have to happen for you to utter similar words–and actually mean them?

PRAY:  Spend time meditating on the gut-honest yet God-honoring words of Job.  Let your emotions serve as a backdrop to your prayers.  Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you in the silence.

LIVE:  Today as you use different objects (your car, computer, TV, and so on) and as you enter different places (your home, school, workplace, and so on), consider how you might respond if God instantly removed an item without explanation.

What’s funny is that I’ve read this passage many times and have always so compartmentalized what happened to Job in terms of the conversation between God and Satan and how Job had all his land taken away that I’ve missed many of the correlations to my own life sometimes.  Sitting in my current situation, it’s easy to make a comparison of my life to that of Job, in terms of my husband because he’s really the one who has had everything stripped from him.  However, now that I think about it:  I’ve had just enough stripped from me to make me be able to see this passage differently, to make me able to see the correlation.

Over the course of my life, I’ve had many things wrenched away from me.  But, every time, after the hurting was over, and after I’d finished whining and complaining about whatever it was that I lost, I was able to see that loss was not the prevailing theme.  I had gained some things too.  But what’s more important is that the value of the things that I have gained far outweighs the hurt that losing them caused.

To date, most of the things that I’ve lost or that have been taken away from me, have not been given back to me.  Some of those things, I wouldn’t want back.  Some of those things I like to think I might want back, but I cannot imagine that my life would be better if I got them.  So for now, there’s only one thing that has been taken from me that I know I will receive back, and can hardly wait until it is returned.  My husband.  But, until then, I know that God is working in the both of us, preparing us to be even better for each other than when we were separated.  But not just better for each other.  Better for the work he has planned for us as a couple when he returns.  Better servants.  Better friends.  Better parents.  And more humble.  More submissive to God’s will and plan for our lives.  Ready to answer whatever call he has placed on our lives because we will have conquered something that we never thought we could have.

So…until that glorious day, I will continue to walk, with my head held high, waiting expectantly, hopeful that it is sooner than later, but with the knowledge that whenever that day comes, I will be fully prepared for it, and the world my husband and I will re-enter as a couple will have been being prepared for us.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you so much for all you do for us.  Thank you for this world that you have so lovingly created and that each one of us has been created in your image.  Thank you for loving us so much that you gave up your son to die on the cross that we all might have a chance to spend eternity in paradise with you.

Be with us Lord.  You know that we are just dust.  You know how easy it is to get attached to the fleeting things of this world, and how easy it is to forget that we would have nothing but that, by grace, you have decided to gift us with all that we have.  Lord, help us to be thankful for everyone and everything in our lives that we have received from you.  And help us to see that THAT is everything we have.  Help us to remember to hold all those things and all those people with an open hand so that it doesn’t hurt quite so much when you ask for them back, or when you require that we sacrifice them.

Thank you, Lord, for everyone who has stopped by this humble, little blog and decided to return.  I have no words but the ones you give me.  And Lord, please, when the words do not come from you, don’t let them come at all.

I thank you for today.  For every breath I was given.  For every breath my children took.  For every breath my husband takes all the way over in Kansas.  I thank you for my family.  For my friends.  For my mentors.  And Lord, I thank you for the people who have hurt me, because that hurt has caused me to have to turn to you if I am going to heal.

I praise your Holy Name.  And all this I pray in your son’s precious name, the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.