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When we meet in person, we take some time to share our joys and concerns. If you have any prayer requests, you can share them with us in the comment section of this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Dear God, the world seems so dark and foreboding.
Where are the signs of hope?
What are you calling us to do?
Wars, uprisings, displacements, hunger, poverty, and disease continue to claim victims by the millions around the world each year.
Our ears do not want to hear their stories and our eyes do not want to see their plight because the suffering and destruction is so massive and cruel.
In our hearts and minds there is a desire to help somehow, but the crisis seem so overwhelming that we shake our heads in dismay and we wonder what the point is for us even to attempt to be witnesses for healing and hope in this hellish morass.
We beg with the song writer to open our eyes that we may see glimpses of truth you have for us.
Help us to follow the path of Jesus, the Suffering Servant. Give us the courage to be willing to walk the path of depression and pain with the victims of injustice here at home as well as abroad.
Help us to seek ways to light candles of hope, however small, through our words, our deeds, and our prayers, to encourage our sisters and brothers to hold onto the faith in spite of the pain and suffering they are facing.
And help those of us who are among the fortunate ones, who have enough bread to eat, good health, and who live in relative peace, to open our heart to learn from our sisters and brothers who are living lives of grace and forgiveness in the horrid circumstances which surround them. O God, help us to light one candle rather than to curse the darkness.
We pray this in the name of Jesus, who knows what being a light in this dark world is all about.
This week's lesson is on Job 42:1-6, 10-17.
Last weeks lesson was from Job 8 which had Job’s friends trying to counsel him. Starting in chapter 38 God speaks to Job through a storm where he could hear the voice of the Lord. He does not give Job the justification of his ways that Job had been demanding. Out of the awesome majesty of the thunderstorm, he reminds Job that the wisdom that directs the Creator’s ways is beyond the reach of human understanding - that’s humanity’s almost godlike wisdom should not presume to match God’s wisdom or take it’s measure. God ask of Job, Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place. The rest of chapter 38 and 39 continues this line of questioning to Job. After asking Job’s understanding of the observed world, God invited Job to provide an answer. Job expressed that he could not provide answers to God’s line of questioning and was in no place to accuse God further. God’s response became even more pointed as he asked Job if he would “discredit my justice” and “condemn me to justify yourself”. God made it clear that Job , as a mere creature, was in no position to question the justice and judgment of the eternal Creator.
God’s response was not an attempt to belittle Job or to provide answers for Job’s suffering and lament. Rather, God’s intent was to show Job the limit of his understanding of God’s purposes and plans. God’s just nature will not be thwarted, brought into questions, or limited by humanity.
Job notes that no purpose takes place outside of scope of God’s divine wisdom . Job admitted he spoke in ignorance. Job showed remorse for his words towards God.
Job’s vision of God was both overwhelming and humbling. Job repents but not for any unknown wrongdoing that was supposed to have prompted his suffering and misfortune but instead of the way he had misconstrued and misrepresented the just and all-powerful God. Job covered himself in dust and ashes to show his sorrow and repentance.
Despite Job’s mistakes in word and attitude while he suffered , he is still commended and the counselors rebuked. Why? Because even in his rage , even when he challenges God, he was determined to speak honestly before him. The counselors, on the other hand, , mouthed many correct theological statements, but without living knowledge of the God they claimed to honor. Job spoke to God, they only spoke about God. Even worse, their spiritual arrogance caused them to claim knowledge they did not possess. They presume to know why Job was suffering.
Job’s friends were ordered to sacrifice burnt offerings. Job’s friends followed God’s directives, after which Job prayed for them. The Lord began the process of restoring Job by giving him twice as much as he had before. As of his brothers and sisters and everyone who knew him before ate with him in his house. Before those closest to Job had turned against him believing Job had sinned greatly against God. And each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. He had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters. Job’s granted an inheritance to his daughters along with his sons.
After this Job lived a 104 years. Job lived in obedience to God’s commands, and God blessed him as he lived in the land.
Conclusion - Give us an Explanation!
It is highly unlikely that any of us have had 10 children die and have lost all possession as Job did. Even so, our actions during challenging circumstances often mirror Job’s. He lamented in unknowing and allowed the intensity of his emotions to govern his speech toward God. After Job experienced God’s presence and pointed line of questioning, Job realized his insignificance and the baseless nature of his questioning of God. Job had questioned his just God, only to realize he spoke out of turn. Job learn firsthand that God’s purpose or plan may not be evident to human eyes, but God remains just in the midst of it all.
Often when we are based with unexplainable and challenging circumstances, we want answers and explanations for the reason for our suffering. So we ask why relentlessly, implying that the answers will satisfy the longing of our souls as they explain the unexplainable. But a greater salve for our wounded souls is an overwhelming vision of God, in which his external presence and wise counsel become the anchor for our lives and guides us to whatever he might have next to us.
God of infinite wisdom, remind us that we do not see as you see. Give us confidence to trust that you are just and worthy of full obedience. In Jesus’ name. Amen
In our conversation with God, we sometimes get in our own way. We miss hearing his voice because we are not giving space to listen. It is called a conversation because it involves two speakers; otherwise, it’s just a monologue.
If you think God’s isn’t speaking, are you really listening?
What distractions do you need to quiet so you can hear? Sometimes all it takes to hear is to look up.
How do you go about comforting someone going through loss or hardship so you don’t make the mistakes Job’s friends did?
Is it okay to pray to God about money when you are going through financial hardship?
Instead of dust and ashes, what physical acts or substance best accompany repentance today?
This week's benediction comes from the New Revised Standard Version.
Next week, we will be starting a new quarter. The topic will be God Frees and Redeems. Daily readings for the quarter are in the link below.
Our first lesson will be on Ezra 1:1-8, 11; 2:64-70.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.