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Posts Tagged ‘fear and pain’


Job 38-42: Dialog with God

Job with his friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar

Sunday, August 5, 2018

We have visited with this portion of Job before during our Noontime reflections and we have spent time thinking about the presence and work of Satan, about arguing with the Almighty, Restoration brought about when living a life of impossible hopes.  Today we might pause to think about how blessings arrive in our lives . . . sometimes with people or events which bring us unexpected problems . . . and how these experiences often bring us unexpected outcomes.

In looking for something more, I turned to THE ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE and find that, of course, the Babylonians had their own culture and literature dealing with suffering.  One Akkadian text from approximately 1000 B.C.E. called The Babylonian Theodicy is a dialog between a sufferer and his friend who present questions much like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar do with Job.  Much of the dialog has to do with the mysterious ways of the gods (page 776).  Another text entitled A Man and His God, is found on a broken tablet and is a lament of a young man suffering from a terrible disease.  This man recognizes and concedes his guilt, unlike Job who is an innocent sufferer.  There is much here to indicate that these ancient cultures spent time thinking and reflecting on the causes of suffering (770).

Ancient Hittite texts often depict their gods as weak and impotent in the face of natural disasters.  And they are sometimes seen as dependent as, for example, in a story about the storm god Telepinu who fell asleep under a tree and forgot to make it rain!  The other gods could not locate him until at last a tiny bee awakened him with a sting, and then a goddess of magic and a local priest intervened on behalf of those who were starving because of the drought (page 784).  All of this is fun and interesting . . . but lacking the depth and theology of the story of Job.

And so we might ask: What does Job tell us today in our modern and fast moving world when we struggle to dialog with God?

Many advances in technology have been made; much information has been stored in databases, and yet we are not much nearer to understanding the beauty and mystery of God.  I asked my granddaughter today what God is if God is not magic.  She answered immediately and without wavering – and with much conviction for one so little – God is miracle.

This is what Job knows.  This is what Job understands.  This is what Job trusts.  This is where Job finds power.  And this is what makes Job important for us today because when we are in the depths of misery and pain, there is nothing more we need than God’s power, joy and life that we experience in our suffering. Moving through the past, and moving beyond our present ordeal, we find solace in our pain, courage in our fear, comfort in our anxiety, hope in our desperation, and newness in our life.  When we most seek relief and restoration we might pray with these chapters from Job today.

We cannot expect a life free of suffering.  Indeed, life so often is suffering.  But what we can expect, and what we can receive is God’s grace, Christ’s touch, the Holy Spirit’s comfort.  And we can expect that joy will rise from our pain when we struggle to dialog with God.


Adapted from a Favorite written on July 29, 2008.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 770. 776 & 784. Print.

Image from: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/jw-meeting-workbook/april-2016-mwb/meeting-schedule-apr4-10/job-bible-false-accusations/

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – Deuteronomy 3 – Teaching the Children

parent-child[1]Whether we ourselves have children or not, it is beneficial to universal society for those of us who have survived cataclysm to teach those who follow us how to endure well rather than to endure at all costs.  If we hope to improve both collectively and individually we must be willing to take an honest look at how we operate, what we value, and how we enact our values.  This is what Moses calls us to today.  We are not asked to pass along stories of how others have carried on through crisis; we are asked to be earnestly on our guard not to forget the things which our own eyes have seen, not let them slip from our memory as long as we live, but teach them to our children and to our children’s children.  This is a noble vocation: to pass along a manual for how to persist through pain, fear and antagonism. 

Keeping in mind that each time we read or hear the phrase “fear” in reference to the Lord in the New Testament that we might replace it with the word “love,” we can see how the arrival of Jesus is the completion of all God’s promises to the people.  God, with his expression of concern and empathy embodied in Jesus, tells us how much he loves us and wants to be with us.  God warns us often about the dangers of idolatry and encourages us to consider the advantages of fidelity.  God’s own fidelity with us is guaranteed.  God’s love proved repeatedly through the stories we can tell about his power to save and restore.   God’s hope for us and in us is spelled out clearly as he establishes – here through Moses – cities of refuge in which his people might find a second opportunity for recovery.  God never gives up on us.

Deuteronomy, perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, asks its readers to remember and to pass along our own story of how the goodness of the Lord has changed us forever.  It asks that we consider God’s goodness, and that we pass along the story of how we came through a wilderness with no road map other than our fidelity to a God who loves us so much he cannot bear to be apart from us for even the smallest of moments.  We are loved by a God who does not ever want to be without us.

And so we pray . . .

Father Creator, Jesus Saver, Holy Spirit Abider and Comforter, we see by your actions that you will never forsake the work of your own hands.  We realize that the only firm ground on which we stand is the rock of your own steadfastness in your commitment to us.  We know that you are incapable of deception, trickery or betrayal.  Give us the fortitude and courage to follow you, even when we are fearful, even when we are in pain.  We rely on your patience and mercy as always.  And we await our own restoration and peace that comes with the joy of knowing and serving you.  We thank you for your bountiful love, and we hope to return that love to you always . . . even when we are fearful or in pain.

Help us to pass along to the children and to the children of those children not only the story of your love . . . but the essence of your love as well.  Guide us in loving our enemies, in praying for the impossible, and in remaining always with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

 Written on August 11, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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