Sitting with Job in Despair 081512
The story of Job’s troubles is legendary. He lost family, possessions, health and social status. Things were so bad that his wife told him to “Curse God and die.” Job struggled to understand why such bad things had happened to him. Picking up on that perennial struggle, Rabbi Kushner in 1981 wrote a famous book with the title “When bad things happen to good people.”
Several of Job’s friends stopped by to cheer him up and did not do so well. One such friend, Zophar, tried to convince Job that he was guilty of something and needed to confess. In the end, Zophar is rebuked by God for telling Job such things.
Most of the time I do not need my friends to tell me how bad I am. I tend to be hard enough on myself. And if something bad comes along (sickness, car breakdown, drought, broken relationship, etc.) I sometimes wonder what I did to deserve this trouble. I have not found this to be a helpful exercise. Instead I need to trust in God to walk with me through the storm.
Psalm 34 is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for God’s help in times of trouble. Some of the words from this psalm bring comfort:
· “I sought the Lord and he answered me, and delivered me from all my troubles.”
· “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed from despair.”
The next time I am feeling like Job, I hope for a friend with listening ears and helping hands. That would feel like better medicine than a sharp tongue.
Guest blogger Lee Lever is pastor of the Austin (Texas) Mennonite Church
Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).
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9O fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.
10The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?
13Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
14Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
11Then Zophar the Naamathite answered: 2“Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and should one full of talk be vindicated? 3Should your babble put others to silence, and when you mock, shall no one shame you? 4For you say, ‘My conduct is pure, and I am clean in God’s sight.’ 5But oh, that God would speak, and open his lips to you, 6and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For wisdom is many-sided. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.
7“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? 8It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? 9Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. 10If he passes through, and imprisons, and assembles for judgment, who can hinder him? 11For he knows those who are worthless; when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it? 12But a stupid person will get understanding, when a wild ass is born human.
13“If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him. 14If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. 15Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear. 16You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. 17And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. 18And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. 19You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid; many will entreat your favor. 20But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.”
8Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 11Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. 13They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” 15And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Walking with Ruth 081412 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)