Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 36; 147:12-20, Job 1:1-22, Acts 8:26-40, John 6:16-27
The Book of Job is sad, scary, and difficult: forty-two chapters tackling the big questions of why bad things happen to good people and in summary it concludes (spoiler alert!) you don’t get to question God. Its “happy” epilogue, if one thinks on it for more than a moment, is as horrifying as the rest of the story (replacement children? really?). But it drives home an important lesson many Christians would rather rationalize away: no matter how good or faithful you are, bad stuff can happen to you and you may never find a satisfactory reason.
By the end of chapter one, because of a wager between God and Satan, Job loses his oxen, donkeys, sheep, servants, camels, and children. Devastated by grief, he shaves his head, tears up his robe, and … falls to the ground in worship?
Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.
Have you known anyone to respond to a great loss – or a minor one for that matter – with sin cere worship? Imagine comforting a grieving mother at a funeral by saying: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” A more common response is anger toward God, perhaps even a period of turning away. Yet Job does not hesitate to worship. A friend once said she gave daily thanks for both the good and bad things in her life. What a faithful prayer!
In all times, in all places, and under all circumstances, God loves us. It’s so very human to want explanations for suffering: God is testing us; God is refining us; God is punishing us. Maybe all of these are true and maybe none are. If there are lessons to be learned from our suffering, we should be open to them. But if there are none … God still loves us.
Worship always. If we must ask “What did I do to deserve this?” let the “this” be God’s undying, praiseworthy love.
For further reading on today’s text from Acts see Run Don’t Walk
For further reading on today’s text from John see Healthy Fear
Comfort: God is with you in good times and bad.
Challenge: Think back to a time you were angry with God. Offer Him now the praise you didn’t feel then.
Prayer: Creator and Redeemer, thank you for the love you bestow on me at all times. I am sorry for the times I couldn’t return it. I will praise you always. Amen.
Discussion: Everyone copes differently with grief. How do you?
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