A Center for Ants?!

Job 41-42 and Psalm 89

I struggle with the book of Job. I come to the end of it anticipating answers. I’ve read it before, and I didn’t find answers then, so why would I expect answers this time? Maybe I will read it enough times that the key to all of it will suddenly spark into my understanding. But I could be asking the wrong questions. What if the author of Job wasn’t trying to answer the questions I care about? Is it still fair for me to excavate it for the answers I want?

If I was going to judge the book of Job like I would a television series, I would say it got canceled and they had to scramble to figure out a way to end it in the last episode. But there were too many details and connections to squeeze into one episode. There are only so many options in that situation, and none of them are good. So the producers of The Job Show, driven by the fans’ need for closure, opted for the fairy tale ending where some magical element swooped in out of left field and restored Job to his former glory. Then nothing really had to be explained. It was tied up with a bow without the need to craft all the right connections.

Somehow having two Ferraris to replace the first and getting a replacement family doesn’t feel like closure or justice to me. Really, I’m happy that Job had a great life after all of that, but that doesn’t wipe away the lingering questions.

Probably the biggest question everyone has about the book of Job is how a good and loving God can allow such terrible suffering. In Job, it is even more problematic, because God is making some kind of wager with the accuser and giving him permission to take everything from him. It doesn’t really take God off the hook to say that technically he didn’t do anything to Job. It sure sounds like Job was a chip being pushed out into the middle of the table during a divine poker game.

Another uncomfortable question is about the satan/accuser. The assumption might be that he is the bad guy, and that if justice is done, he should be dealt with. But he isn’t dealt with. He’s not important enough to even mention as the story comes to a close. It isn’t clear at all from the text that he is supposed to be understood as being evil. It sounds like he is just fulfilling a role of someone on God’s staff responsible for playing devil’s advocate, to enact checks and balances against God’s policies.

Short of having good answers for these questions, the next best thing I can do is suggest that they were probably not on the radar of Job’s author. The book of Job is not really about why we suffer or where suffering comes from, although Job’s suffering is like the emotional setting of the story. It isn’t about who or what the satan is, nor about his relationship to God. Not that these are not important questions! It’s just that the author of Job didn’t set out to address them. I think the real questions on the table are more about God’s wisdom and justice, and that the events at the beginning of Job serve to propel us into a hypothetical situation where we can sandbox the questions with Job and his friends.

In all the haste to bring the series to a close, there was time for a good bit about Leviathan. He’s a chaos water-dragon type of creature that we are apparently completely powerless against. You could take him to be a representation of our deepest fears and unknowns. How do we face such absolute terror? And if God is his creator, how much more terrifying must God be? Just imagine that we are like ants to Leviathan, but Leviathan is just a tadpole to God. Just a tadpole in a drop of water on a rock orbiting a star, somewhere within a galaxy of billions of stars, somewhere among billions of other galaxies. Do you feel insignificant?

After reading Job, we are left feeling small and with more questions than we had before reading it. Our status is upset from expert to beginner. This is a good place to be. This is humility that can lead to wisdom. God didn’t inspire the author of Job to answer all of our questions or connect all the dots for us. God is prompting us to ask bigger and better questions.

God trusted that Job would endure the most severe unrest and still serve him. Job was somehow able to trust that God was a God of justice even though he didn’t have the evidence we’d all require to do the same. Can I really trust that ultimately God will set everything right? Am I willing to accept that I most likely will not see all of this happen in this lifetime? Can I accept that God has the wisdom to enact true justice in his time, to his standards? 

Little did Job know that having his riches restored was only a small taste of God’s restorative justice. Our ideas of what justice, goodness, and love look like are so tiny compared to the true versions of these that come from God.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” (Psalm 89:14)

-Jay Laurent

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway at Job 41-42 and Psalm 89

The Under Pressure / I Will Survive Mash-up

Job 39-40

I’m intrigued by tardigrades. They are eight-legged microscopic animals that look almost like bears when they move, earning them the alternate name water bears. They can be found anywhere on earth, surviving the most extreme temperatures and pressures. Apparently it is no big deal for them to have no air, water, or food for a while. They can dehydrate in a water shortage and sit dormant for decades until more water comes along, and then rehydrate and continue their life as if nothing happened. They can even survive exposure to outer space unshielded from dangerous radiation. They have a resilience of almost mythical proportions.

Consider Behemoth (Job 40:15-24). He seems pretty solid. He makes me think of an elephant, hippo, or in the Harry Potter universe, an erumpent. Who knows what he is anyway? All I know is that I’d rather not cross paths with one. The most a tardigrade could do to me is crawl on me, and I wouldn’t notice it. Encountering a black bear could be scary, but they’d likely run away, especially if we are in a group. They don’t want to run into you any more than you want to run into them. But Behemoth doesn’t care. He’d trample you.

“Even if the river is turbulent, it is not frightened; it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth. Can one take it with hooks or pierce its nose with a snare?” (Job 40: 23-24)

Like the tardigrade, Behemoth is resilient. You or I would be swept away by the current, but not Behemoth. He makes his way through the turbulent Jordan and doesn’t lose his confidence. He knows the struggle is real, and the waters may even slow him down, but this is not the end of Behemoth. Not even close.

We’re of “small account” just like Job (40:4). We all have our struggles, our raging Jordans, that we are trying to make our way through. During the process, it’s fair to want to know why we have to struggle and suffer, and where all of it comes from. Is it from a broken world paying forward the hurt? Is it the natural consequence of our poor decisions? Does it come from God, like the author of Psalm 88 might suggest? Is it from evil forces trying to discourage us? Is it just general suffering we’re guaranteed to experience? Is it some combination of all of them?

But do you think Behemoth or the tardigrade worry about why they suffer? Probably not. They just try to get through it. Maybe while you are suffering, the “why” questions aren’t going to be the most important thing. You may only have the energy or capacity to react to the crisis and pick up the pieces later. Figuring out the deeper questions might be something you only worry about on the other side of suffering.

The ability to think about suffering is both a blessing and curse. If you think about your situation and realize that you are at least partly responsible for your suffering or the suffering of others, you have the ability to learn from your mistakes and avoid making them again. In that way, being able to avoid unnecessary suffering is a blessing. But it can seem like a curse to keep thinking about the purpose of your suffering when it comes from something completely beyond your control. This is the carousel of painful thoughts Job was on.

In that situation, it is fair to want to challenge God, like Job did. Where is his supposed justice? Go ahead and challenge God and have the wrestling match (Gen 32). He can handle it. Just be prepared to be challenged back. Be prepared for the possibility of injury. Be prepared to grow and receive a new name. Be prepared to be more resilient, more Behemoth or tardigrade-like.

To quote someone who voluntarily took on suffering for our benefit and was resilient through death itself: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

-Jay Laurent

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway here – Job 39-40 and Psalm 87-88

Gird up now thy loins like a man

Job 37-38 and Psalm 85-86

There is an idea called the “retribution principle” that you can find woven into much of scripture. If you think that being good and righteous means that you will be rewarded, and that being wicked means you will be punished, you think that the retribution principle is true on some level. It seems to make sense as a general rule. What goes around comes around; you reap what you sow.

For most of the book of Job, we’ve been immersed in a debate between Job and his friends about whether this principle holds up. Job’s friends insist that Job must have done something wrong to bring on this suffering. Job insists he’s righteous and that his suffering makes no sense, bringing God’s justice into question. Elihu shows up, defending God’s majesty and justice, and condemning Job for being too self-righteous.

Sometimes Job’s friends seem like they have a grasp on the truth, but other times what they say seems misguided, and in the times left over, we just aren’t sure what to think. They all have worthwhile things to say, but at the core are still flawed humans. When reading anything in Job, we have to use some discernment to decide if what is being said is really true. After all, in the last chapter of the book, Job’s friends are criticized by God for not speaking of him what is right. 

At this point we have read a large chunk of Job, yet we are not sure who to believe or how to make sense of all the things that are being said. Suddenly in chapter 38, God rejoins the conversation from a whirlwind, signaling that this should be the dramatic moment when all our questions are answered.

We get no answers. In fact, God says he is going to ask the questions now.

If Job is man enough to challenge God, then he’d better be man enough to be challenged back. He’d better brace himself like a warrior. Job, were you there when I put down the foundation of the earth and gave the chaotic waters their boundaries? Do you have intimate knowledge of how all of creation works? Have you explored the highest highs and the deepest and darkest chasms? Do you have control over light, rain, snow, lightning, stars, or animals? Where does wisdom come from?

What would you say back? Really, what could you say back?

Does this frustrate you? It frustrates me. We call out to God in our deepest despair and questions but then feel like we just have more questions. It is not any fun to be humbled and put in our place. It’s disheartening to follow God and still go through hard times; we think it isn’t supposed to work that way. It’s natural to ask why we even bother serving God when we can’t seem to find the benefits, and yet the troubles have no trouble finding us. This all hurls us back to the question posed in Job chapter 1: If all the benefits were stripped away, would Job still serve God? Would you?

Through the story, the author of Job is asking us to question the retribution principle. Apparently, being good doesn’t mean you’ll expect only good things in your life. And being bad doesn’t mean getting a lump of coal. Reality is just more complex than that. It rains on the righteous as well as the wicked, and even in a desert land where nobody lives.

I’ll close with prayers of hope from the other part of our reading today:

“Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:8-9)

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)

-Jay Laurent

Some of you may know Jay as the really tall bass player in the FUEL worship band. We welcome his deep thoughts on God’s Scriptures this week.

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 37-38 and Psalm 85-86

Is God Listening?

Job 27-28 and Psalm 75-77

For the first time in this blog’s 5 year history a very FORTUNATE miscommunication on my part has led us to not just ONE devotion writer today but TWO NEW devotion writers. So, no apologies from me…enjoy them both! It is my pleasure to bring to you two exceptional young men and their thoughts from God’s Word today.

From Elijah New – a high school student I recently had the privilege of meeting when he offered to help with a big job while everyone else was off enjoying a late night party at FUEL youth camp. And, with his internet out last night, he could have used it as an easy excuse to not send in a devotion, but instead he used his mom’s phone and got the job done. THANKS, Elijah!

“Then Job continued his discourse and said, ‘As God lives, who has taken away my right, And the Almighty who has embittered my soul. For as long as life is in me, And the breath of God is in my nostrils, My lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Nor will my tongue mutter deceit. Far be it from me that I should declare you right, Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.” Job 27:1-6 NASB

When I read this it didn’t take long for me to see how strong Job’s faith was. And I think we need to look at this as an example of what our faith should be. In Matthew 17:20 it talks about if you have faith the size of a mustard seed then you can move mountains. Imagine being able to put all of your trust into something or someone. Because that‘s what we see here with Job. He didn’t know why he was being tested but he still held firm in his faith. Just like we should through the good and the bad.

-Elijah New

AND – from Mason Kiel, an impressive college student whom I have had the pleasure of watching grow spiritually over the years. Thank you Mason for taking on the job with short notice on one of your last and few truly summer days.

Today’s passage reflects on the chapters of Psalm 75-77 and Job chapters 27-28. Each of these Psalms are written as musical poetry, for the purpose of exalting or praising God. Diving straight into the word of God we can see that Psalm 75 is about the power of God, his strength and majesty unquestionable.

“We praise you, for your Name is near; People tell of your wonderful deeds. You say, ‘I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity. When the earth and all it’s people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns. Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly.’’” Psalm 75:1-5

Psalm 76 is about how God brings down those who attack him and lifts those who praise him. We can read of the rightful power God has to judge us with when in Psalm 76:4 it begins:

“You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. The valiant lie plundered; they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet— when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained. Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.” Psalm 76:4-12

We can see that God delivers to those what they deserve and loves those who fearfully worship him.

The final passage is that of Psalm 77. In this chapter, the song is calling to God in distress and questioning His presence. I encourage you to read the whole Psalm for yourself, but these few verses below relate so well to the story of Job.

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

The story of Job is perhaps perfectly mirrored by these several Psalms. The first point being that God is all powerful. The second is that regardless of what we believe, God is in complete and total control. Lastly, when we call to God, and it feels like He isn’t there or isn’t listening, remember that He is. Even when Job was diseased, alone, and poor beyond belief, he had faith in God and God ultimately gifted him greater than ever before. The next time it feels like God isn’t listening, remember to trust in Him regardless, give Him praise and sing Him Psalms, and He will bless you!

-Mason Kiel

Thank you God for sending both Elijah and Mason to SeekGrowLove today! It is exciting to see such quality young people digging into Your Word, sharing Your truth and wisdom and serving the Body of Christ in new and often challenging ways. Help us be a light reflecting You today while showing complete faith in You. May we seek You always.

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 27-28 and Psalm 75-77

Please Lord, Get Your Hands Out of Your Pockets!

Job 25,26 and Psalm 73,74


Job had certainly experienced his share, actually more than his share, of trouble.  Add to that the counsel of his wife and friends and you can’t help but wonder how he managed to survive, and to actually thrive in his relationship with the LORD.  None of it was fair, but why would we expect life to be fair?  If life was fair, I suppose we’d be zapped with judgment upon our first sin.  Job seemed to have wisdom and understanding beyond most.  Psalm 111:10 comes to mind, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him (the LORD) belongs eternal praise!”  Job did his best to follow the LORD’S precepts, and he was consequently blessed with understanding.  He was certainly a man of faith, with determined loyalty to the LORD, no matter what came his way.  What an example for us as we see evil in our world, as we experience trouble, disappointment, pain, sorrow, frustration.  It’s easy to wonder, where is God?  Why doesn’t he send Jesus back?  Isn’t it time to put an end to this broken and disobedient age in which we live? 


Asaph, author of Psalm 73 and 74, may have had similar thoughts.  He seemed to envy the arrogant, even thought the wicked had it better than he.  Everything seemed to go well for them.  They were carefree, yet their wealth increased.  This bothered him to no end, until he remembered the rest of the picture.  All may have appeared bright and shiny, but he was reminded the wicked are doomed to judgment and destruction.    


Still, it bothered Asaph that things continued as they did.  Notice Psalm 74:11, “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?  Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!”  Asaph felt, as probably most of us today, that God should get his hands out of his pockets and fix things.  Deal with the evil!  Get rid of those who persecute God’s people!  Smack those who call evil good, and good evil!  Bring your salvation!  Have regard for your covenant, your promises!  Defend your cause!  


Doesn’t that sound like our thoughts and wishes?  Send Jesus back now!  I suspect things are going to get a whole lot worse than they are now, than we can even imagine.  It’s okay that we would wish God would take his hands out of his pockets and fix everything, because that in itself shows that we do know he who can and will eventually fix things.  At the same time, may we be patient, may we persevere, as did Job, and may we wait upon the LORD to take action when and how he sees fit!

-John Railton

Today’s Bible passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 25-26 and Psalm 73-74

To Know God

Job 40-42

Job 42 3 NIV

The last chapters of Job leave us with a terrifying and convicting picture. God continues to describe his wonders through his creations. We may have a pretty tame view of God based on a Santa Claus version of him that is popular in churches today. However, when we think about the fact that God, who made every great and mighty thing in the world from alligators to great white sharks to tornadoes and hurricanes, also controls them. He is greater and mightier than anything that exists.

 

When God tells these things to Job, Job recognizes how small and insignificant he is – just like we do when we stand on a mountain top or look at the vastness of the ocean. Job, before this moment, knew a lot about God. He knew the right theology and lived righteously. At the heart of the matter though, he didn’t truly know the depth of who God was, and because of that, he tried to put God in a box. He tried to put limits on God based on his own limited human understanding.

 

If you’ve grown up hearing about God, whether the things you heard were true or not, you may have a mistaken understanding of who God is. It’s like the game of telephone, where one person starts off a chain of spoken words. We all can remember some of the hilarious phrases that are morphed out of simple sentences when we don’t get the original saying from the source. When we try to base our understanding of God on what we’ve heard by word of mouth, we may have some pretty wacky understandings of God. When we come face to face with Him through the scriptures, we begin to see with clarity the awe and majesty of God.

 

That’s our hope for the new year. By the end of the year, we should say, like Job, “I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You” (Job 42:5). Let’s commit to this goal together to desire to know God instead of just learning more about God this year.
~Cayce Fletcher
Meet God face to face in His Word.  You can read or listen to God here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+40-42&version=CSB
We have finished the book of Job – tomorrow we return to the book of Genesis (chapters 12-15) in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Letting God be God

 Job 38-39

Job 38 33 35a CSB

The end of Job takes a dramatic turn as one more speaker steps in to answer Job’s question of why bad things happen to good people. For the previous 35 or so chapters, Job and his friends have tried to sort out this question based on their own understanding. In chapter 38, the only one whose opinion matters steps in to set the record straight. God speaks and asks of Job and his friends, “Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me” (Job 38:2-3). God then begins to ask Job a series of questions about the earth and its creation. The question God begins with is “Where were you when I established the earth? Who fixed its dimensions? What supports its foundations?” (Job 38:4-6). To all of these questions, Job could only meekly respond, ‘God, you did. Only you could know.’

 

Too often in life, we can feel like we know what’s best for our lives. We have things all planned out, from where we are going to get lunch the next day to where we will go to college or get a job. When our plans don’t match up with our realities, we can begin to question God’s goodness. Because our lives don’t match up with the ‘good’ plans that we have created, we may think that God is not good. These chapters in Job reorient us to the deep truth that we need to cling to when faced with these discrepancies between our plans and life’s reality: We are not God. Job’s questions and those of his friends all centered around their actions and their righteousness. When God steps in, he redirects them to the real truth about their lives, the scriptures, and the universe as a whole. It all exists for the glory of God. In addition to this, all of creation was made by God. He knows the purpose behind what exists and what occurs. He is using all of these things to bring him glory.

 

So, when we begin to question God and ask why his plans don’t match our own, we can rest in the fact that God is God. He is sovereign and has a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan can be painful, but ultimately, that is helping us to become mature and complete in our Christian walk (James 1). When we allow God to be God, it’s easier for us to fulfill our main purpose in life: living our lives to glorify him.
Cayce Fletcher
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+38-39&version=CSB
Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of Job – 40-42.  And then we will jump back into where we left off in the book of Genesis as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.  Let’s SeekGrowLove together!

Pursuit of a Righteous Life

Job 35-37

Job 35 3 CSB

Today, we read as Elihu continues to reason out why bad things happen to good people. In chapter 35, we read about a dangerous attitude: being righteous for the sake of what we can gain from God or others. The second that our circumstances turn negative, we can easily fall into the trap that Elihu explains in verses 2-9. In these verses, he says, “Do you think it is just when you say, ‘I am righteous before God?’ For you ask, “What does it profit you, and what benefit comes to me, if I do not sin?”

 

Even though we may not admit it, we may begin to think the same questions as Elihu and Job when we face difficult circumstances. Sometimes we think that we follow God for the benefits that we gain in this life. We feel that if we do the right things (we do not lie, cheat, steal, etc.) that we should have a good life with a good family, nice house, and steady paycheck. It is true that following the wisdom that we find in Proverbs and other books can lead to better life outcomes than following the path of the wicked. This being said, we were never promised an easy life full of worldly comforts. In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that he should be pitied more than all other men if it’s only for this life that he is hoping for. Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have suffering in this world. In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus even says that we are blessed when we mourn and face persecution and difficult times. When we choose to follow Jesus and pursue a righteous life, we are choosing a more difficult path.

 

When we think in terms of what we can gain in this life, it may seem like there is not much benefit in pursuing a righteous life. So why should we decide to live a righteous life and not sin? Elihu attempts to answer how our sin affects God and others in verses 6-9. He says, “Your wickedness affects a person like yourself, and your righteousness another human being. People cry out because of severe oppression; they shout for help because of the arm of the mighty.” When we sin, we not only are grieving God, but also we are hurting those around us. Yes, we may not always have an easy life, but ultimately, we are living a better life when we choose to live by the commands that God gives us.

 

If you are facing difficult circumstances, you may feel like giving up on God. It may seem like he is silent. You may feel like the sacrifices you’ve made for your faith are not resulting in the good things that you want from God. But, don’t give up on pursuing a righteous life! Your actions will lead to a better life for you and those around you and will guide more people to the kingdom.

Cayce Fletcher

You can read or listen to today’s passage here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+35-37&version=CSB

Tomorrow’s passage will be Job 38-39 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Trusting in the Character of God

Job 32-34

Job 34 10b csb

We are deep into the book of Job, listening to Job’s friends who make pretty poor comforters as Job tries to process his grief. At the heart of all of these arguments which make up Job 3-42 is the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We saw last week that Job had argued successfully that he had done nothing wrong; he was a righteous man. His friends though just couldn’t believe that God would allow bad things to happen to righteous people, unless it was as a form of discipline.

 

As we get into chapter 32, we hear from another one of Job’s friends. As with all of the other arguments, some of what he says is true and valid, while other parts are not. Elihu feels as though he has to speak because Job had “justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2). He tells Job:

 

“It is impossible for God to do wrong,
And for the Almighty
To act unjustly
For He repays a person according to his deeds,
And He brings his ways on him.
Indeed, it is true that God
Does not act wickedly
And the Almighty does not
Pervert justice.”  (Job 34:10-12)

 

When we deal with difficult situations, we can be tempted to be like Job’s friends. We want to blame our situation on God disciplining us. When we feel we are righteous in our own eyes, we can begin to be bitter towards God and question his goodness and justice. We know that God is just and good. It’s so important not to lose sight of that fact as we deal with challenging situations. We need to rest in the character of God, rather than allow our circumstances to dictate what we believe about God’s character. The messy truth is that every good thing in our lives is a gift from God (James 1:17). When we receive these things, it’s not that we’ve gotten what we’ve earned. Instead, we have received grace upon grace. When we rest in God’s goodness and justice, we can face those hard days with more strength and peace, because we know that God is good despite what goes on around us.
Cayce Fletcher
You can read, or listen to, today’s passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+32-34&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible passage will be Job 35-37.  Print a copy of the schedule and follow along on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Who Are You Blaming?

Job 29-31

Job 31 2 NIV

I love the orderly layout for Job’s final 3 chapters of his defense before God and man.

 

In chapter 29 Job longs for his earlier days, “When the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me” (Job 29:5).  He isn’t dwelling on all the wonderful material  goods he once enjoyed, though we know they were many.  Rather, he is fondly recalling the interactions he had with others – the respect he felt, the ability he once had to help others: serving as the father to the needy, rescuing the fatherless, and comforting the mourners.  And, then he became the mourner.

 

In chapter 30 Job details his current despair.  Now he is detested by men.  He has lost all former dignity and safety and feels terror instead.  He is physically suffering with gnawing pain; blackened, peeling skin; and fever.  And perhaps worst of all, he feels like God is ignoring his cries for help.

 

In chapter 31 Job affirms his righteousness, denying his friends’ claims that he must now be suffering because of great past sins.  He describes many sins: lust, dishonest business transactions, marital infidelity, injustice, not caring for the poor and fatherless, abusing power, greed, idolatry, rejoicing over one’s enemy’s misfortune, and hiding guilt.  For each sin he says, I didn’t do it.  And for each sin he names a punishment a just God could give to him or anyone else who did that evil.

 

The problem is Job – and his friends we have heard from in the past many chapters – don’t understand that there are multiple reasons why we may be enduring trials.  His friends say trials are a result of God’s punishment.  And they were right – but only partially right.  They were erroneously blaming Job for his current trials because he must have deserved it.  Job says he was righteous (not sinless, but righteous) and thus shouldn’t be experiencing trials if God was just.  But, just who is God?  And why does He allow suffering?  These are still the questions that need answers today.

 

Last month I was delighted to watch the youth of our church develop and share a Youth Sunday based on several “apologetic” questions people ask about God.  Does God exist?  Did He create the world?  Is the Bible accurate and reliable?  Are science and the Bible enemies?  AND the biggie – why does God allow suffering?  Too many times a faithful person can believe all the right things and live the right life (just like Job) – until trouble comes.  And then the blaming and questioning tears them away from what they knew was true and the God that loves them.  It was powerful seeing these young people studying truth (guided by godly mentors) and gaining this understanding which will prepare them for trials to come.

 

I want to share with you a brief outline which youth group members, Kaitlyn and Addie, presented on “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”

  • The Fall (Genesis 3:14-19, Romans 5:12)
  • The Devil Causes Evil (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Peter 5:8,9)
  • God’s Judgments (Romans 6:23, Genesis 19:13) – this was the one Job’s friends knew about
  • God Uses Suffering for Good (Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4)
  • Sometimes People Don’t Get Healing Because of a Lack of Faith (Matthew 9:22-24, Mark 9:29)
  • Time & Chance (Luke 13:1-5, Ecclesiastes 9:11)

 

Many sermons could be written about any of these but I want to say just a few words about the devil, Satan, the accuser, the serpent, or the god of this age…the list goes on.  He goes by many names – perhaps a part of his deception and secret identities.  I find it very interesting that he plays a KEY role in Job 1 & 2 – and yet is not mentioned again by either Job or his friends.  He is the one bringing about these trials (which God is allowing) but everyone is pointing the finger at God rather than at Satan.  It is true that the Old Testament has a very limited number of references to Satan.  They did not yet have a very thorough understanding of many things God would reveal to His people through time – the Messiah, the resurrection, and Satan.

 

When Jesus enters the scene, he works to bring a clearer understanding of all these things.  All 4 gospel writers record Jesus speaking about (and sometimes directly to) the devil/Satan and the power he wields to tempt, deceive and inflict.  Every New Testament writer references the devil or Satan.  I believe we still point the finger at God often times when we ought to be recognizing, and fleeing from, the power of the god of this age.  Perhaps there is something you need to stop blaming God for and give the “credit” to Satan instead.

 

And, that is just ONE of the other Biblical reasons for our trials.  So much to think about in the book of Job!

 

I enjoyed looking into Job with you this week and I greatly look forward to the coming week when we get to hear from Cayce (Ballard) Fletcher as we get into the BEST parts of the book of Job!

 

Keep Reading and Seeking, Growing and Loving
Marcia Railton

 

To read or listen to today’s Bible passage check out – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+29-31&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 32-34 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan