Posts Tagged ‘God is in charge’

Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part I

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

In the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE Reading Guide on the book of Job, we find the following proposition: Satan and God have a conversation one day in which Satan insinuates that Job is righteous because of the rewards that he enjoys from God’s hands. He maintains that it is easy for Job to obey God when all is well and all things are right for him. Satan further believes that once these gifts and this favor disappear, Job will desert God, will show that he lacks integrity, and will even arrive at cursing God.  “In a very real sense, the drama of this book stems from Satan’s challenge found in 1,9: ‘Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?’ . . . The reader should note that God takes the dare”. (Senior RG 237)

As we follow Job’s trials, we later observe that “It is clear that Job had not been God fearing simply for the sake of blessing. His afflictions did not diminish his devotion. Even in adversity he maintained that all things are in God’s hands and God would render whatever God deemed fit . . . The content of Job’s laments and pleadings show that Job does not look for recompense; he wants vindication . . . It is apparent that the depth of Job’s piety is based on his relationship with God, not on some promise of reward. We must remember that at this time Israelites did not have a clear idea of reward or punishment in an afterlife, as Christian theology teaches. If justice was not meted out in this life, they had no hope at all of retribution. This makes Job’s disinterested piety even more admirable.  It also serves to challenge our own fidelity.  Job’s faithfulness can also be an encouragement to us . . . Job is not blindly docile in his suffering. Nor is he afraid to complain to God in his frustration . . . He does not really argue with God because he is suffering, but because he sees a conflict between his unwanted suffering and his faith in the justice of God . . . Devout people certainly have their differences with God. We are reminded of the great Teresa of Ávila, who in frustration complained to God, “No wonder you have so few friends”. (Senior RG 238)

Tomorrow, Job’s friends.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 237-238. Print. 

Adapted from a favorite written on May 5, 2010.  

Image from: http://www.examiner.com/article/a-theology-of-suffering-the-book-of-job-part-1-satan-s-power

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Psalm 21: Assertiontell the storm

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Life’s problems are too complicated for us to unravel, our enemies are too numerous to number and as an answer to our frequent question asking God what are to do, we might read, reflect on and pray Psalm 21. This song teaches us how we might assert ourselves in the following loving ways – – – we petition God with our woes and worries, we give thanks where we are able, we do what we can, we watch and wait on the Lord . . . and we sing words of praise to our God . . . Arise, Lord in your power! We will sing and chant the praise of your might. 

In praying this psalm, we express our assurance that God will deliver us, and we remind ourselves that we are not in control of outcomes, nor do we know how any particular outcome will domino through our individual and communal lives.  What we do know when we pray this psalm is this: God will not abandon the faithful, and eventually – and under God’s direction – our enemies will come to understand how their actions have harmed others. Fr. Paul Coutinho writes of this when he describes how anger can take hold of us in his book, HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?

Anger is a ridiculous emotion. Think about it. The people I am angriest with are usually having a good time. They seem to be blessed more and more by life. I believe that God will punish them eventually, but their lives only get better. I try to convince myself that that God is taking them high up in life only so that they may have a great fall. And yet nothing like this ever happens. The only one who suffers from my anger is me. Additionally, I become more ridiculous in my anger. I think about this person I am angry at when I wake up, and I feel his or her presence at the breakfast table. I leave my breakfast unfinished and rush off to my workplace, and this person’s presence, my angry idea of him or her, follows me there. I may inflict this angry feeling onto my co-workers or even my friends or clients. If I decide to go to the movies that evening, I find that person I am angry with sitting right next to me, and half the movie is over and I have not been able to follow the story. And then, of course, I bring this person to bed with me, and I toss and turn the whole night, feeling his or her presence in my own bed. See how ridiculous anger is?  And maybe, just maybe, the thing I am most upset about in another is something I have not reconciled within myself.  (Coutinho 136-137)

Fr. Coutinho suggests that there is an alternative to anger. We might pause, reflect and respond. And our response can be one of love for the other. Coutinho recommends that we love a person to goodness, or – as my mother always said – we kill them with kindness. This kind of assertive behavior leaves the doors of communication open, offers an alternative to anger, and might also help preserve friendships or even develop new ones.  (Coutinho 138) This thinking reminds me of the advice my father always gave us – we do what we are supposed to do, and then we step back and let God worry about the other guy. 

coutinho Big is GodIn today’s Noontime, the psalmist puts human anger into God’s hands and decides to watch the outcome, imagining God exacting a just punishment. Today we decide to go beyond this thinking to pray this psalm with a new assertion. An assertion that directs us to place the intricacies of our problems where they rightly belong . . . in God’s able hands.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 15, 2010.

As a Lenten activity, watch Paul Coutinho, S.J. for a positive, humorous, uplifting view about God and anger at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozevDJf9q9U

Fr. Paul Coutinho, HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD? Loyola Press, 2010.

Image from: http://indulgy.com/post/pkrr70ZTH1/dont-tell-god-how-big-your-storm-is-tell-th

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Cana-Wedding-Village-ancient-Holy-Land-pictureSaturday, July 17, 2021

Ruth 1:19-22

Return to Bethlehem

As we have mentioned earlier this week, the people in this story are part of Jesus’ family tree, and as always with Scripture, we see God in the daily living of these ordinary lives lived in an extraordinary way. The message is clear if we might only look and listen: if something is bound to happen, no one can intervene, and if something is not going to take place, no one can cause it to take place . . . except God. God is in charge.

I like this story because it shows the proper covenant relationship between God the creator and us, God’s creatures. God is always present; it is we who struggle to perceive this presence. When we pause to reflect and to look more closely, we might watch God take action through people who respond to God’s call. In this way then, we can say that we mediate God’s actions.

This story shows how tragedy can be transformed by allowing God’s love to move through us, and allowing God’s love to be actualized through us. Are we not constantly surprised by the inverted way in which God works in our lives?

Jeff Cavins writes, “The story of Ruth is almost a story of Judges in reverse: she is a woman from a pagan nation whose people were hostile to Israel (it was Moabite women who seduced Israel to worship Baal at Peor, and Moab’s king Balak who summoned Baalam to curse Israel back in Numbers 22-25). But Ruth forsakes the gods of Moab to faithfully serve Yahweh. That chapter 4 recognizes Ruth as an ancestress of David, and that Matthew includes her in the genealogy of Jesus helps us remember that God’s ultimate plan was to include all nations in His family. Ruth is in many ways what Israel was called to be.”

Today’s citation is early in Ruth’s story and follows the famous “Whither thou goest” line in verses 16 and 17. The women return to Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest, a harvest which plays an important part in the story that is unfolding. The town celebrates this return as do we.

Recalling that women without men held little value in these ancient times, we can only stand in awe of Ruth and Naomi’s courage in the face of tragedy. We can only hope to see these ordinary lives as extraordinary models for us to follow. We can only believe that God works with us through our own tragedies and joys . . . so let us be open to God’s word in us today.

Jeff Cavins, Sarah Christmeyer and Tim Gray, THE GREAT ADVENTURE: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE BIBLE. Ascension Press, 2007.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 14, 2007.

Image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/ancient-holyland-photos/cana-wedding-village-ancient-holy-land-picture-2

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fragments from Solomon templeMonday, June 14, 2021

1 Chronicles 22

Material for the Temple

David understands that he is to leave the building of God’s dwelling place to his son, Solomon; yet he remains engaged in the process of leaving a strong foundation so that the next generation might continue in this covenant relationship with their creator, saver and lover. David comprehends and acts on the belief that what makes a community strong is not words but deeds. He has a keen appreciation for the fact that the past we come from and the future we envision are both wound tightly into the manner in which we live the present. For David, the past is not merely a receptacle of memories to be sorted by our desire to either erase or celebrate them; it a corpus of experiences – both collective and individual – in which we might discover our true motivations. Likewise, the future is not something to be dreamt and wished for; it is a tangible presence in our daily lives in that our hopes are evidenced in what we presently do.

David does not rest on past success, nor does he conveniently forget his failures. He does not charge head long into his aspirations because he has learned the important lesson that ultimately God is in charge. David knows that when we come to God with our list of petitions that we show our understanding of our proper place with God – that of a child asking a patient parent for help – by asking God for assistance and protection. David understands through his own past experiences that no matter how much he might wish for something he cannot make something happen from his own will power or authority. David also knows that no matter how much he might try to avoid God’s plans for him, he cannot run away from an action that God is asking of him. In today’s reading, David is not self-serving; rather he looks to work in the kingdom building that God has in mind for him.

Jerusalem Temple Foundation Stones

Jerusalem Foundation Stones

And so David searches for the best, stockpiles for the future, exercises prudence and discernment, and charges the next generation of leaders who will challenge the world in their love of Yahweh. We might take to heart his words: Devote your hearts and souls to seeking the Lord your God. Proceed to build the sanctuary of the Lord God, that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and God’s sacred vessels may be brought into the house built in honor of the Lord.

And so today we consider: What are the materials we bring forward from our lives with which to build our own temple for God? What might we carry in the ark of ourselves that honors our maker and helps to build his kingdom? What have we stockpiled? What do we save up? What do we value and how is it appropriate in service to God? What do we hope to pass on to our children and our children’s children? What gift do we offer up to God each day of our present lives?

Adapted from a reflection written on September 19, 2009.

To learn more about the structure and building of the Jerusalem Temple, click on the images above or go to: http://www.crystalinks.com/solomonstemple.html or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_stone

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Acts 12:18-25: Herod’s End

King Herod

King Herod

“Miracles granted and yet not believed.  We are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us”.  This is the closing line of our Noontime reflection Expect MiraclesToday we see what becomes of Herod when he attempted to make himself a god.  It is not a pretty end. 

At the beginning of this chapter we find Herod persecuting the Christians; he has James killed and had Peter arrested.  In the central portion of this chapter, we read about the miracle that God brings about to free Peter, and then we have the closing that describes the end of the man who would set himself up as a god . . . he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.  Notes tell us that Josephus describes this same accounting of events and that the people of the time saw it as divine punishment.  We can only speculate about the effects of his death on the people but still, we are given something to chew over here.  We are reminded once again that . . . God is in charge.  We cannot make something happen that is not part of God’s plan.  Nor can we prevent something from happening that is a part of God’s plan.

We are also reminded that miracles happen under our noses every day that we are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us. 

Herod missed his opportunity to know new life.  He believed that he might force his vision of the world on others, and we see how wrong he was.  He believed that he understood how the world really works, and we see how wrong he was.  He believed that he could bring to bear every resource available to end this movement that had plagued the region since the appearance of the magi who followed a bright star to Bethlehem, and we see how wrong he was.

Miracles are granted to us every day yet we are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us.

The miracle of the gift of Jesus is something that Herod would not acknowledge.  The miracle of the hope of Jesus is a possibility that Herod wanted to erase because it was beyond his control.  The miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of our own resurrection is something we do not want to miss, for we have read and understood Herod’s end.  So let us not forget that . . . Miracles are granted to us every day yet we are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us.

For more on the miracle of Peter’s deliverance from Herod’s prison, see the Expect Miracles page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/miracles/expect-miracles/

Written on August 23, 2010 and re-written today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://pleasantstreetumc.blogspot.com/2011/12/advent-devotion-for-december-10.html

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1 Samuel 26: I have been a fool . . .

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ernst Josephson: David and Saul

I have been a fool and I have made a serious mistake.

David and Saul had at one time a close and personal relationship and David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, become hard and fast friends; yet Saul becomes envious of the admiration the people have for the young warrior-psalm-writer, David.  Today we read a portion of the story in which we see the rupture between them – David and his followers have become fugitives; Saul rants and looks to take David’s life.

In today’s Noontime we watch as David creeps into Saul’s tent where the king sleeps surrounded by bodyguards.  Most of us would expect David to take revenge for the treacherous way Saul has treated him but this does not happen.  Instead, he takes Saul’s spear and water jar to demonstrate his presence and exits the tent.  Admonishing his companion for thinking that they might do God a favor by eliminating Saul, David shows us that he understands his proper place in God’s plan.  He is a servant.  Later, Saul admits he has been wrong and he utters the words many of us need to say to others, or wish that others might say to us: I have been a fool and I have made a serious mistake. 

We can spend our days waiting to hear these words from one who had wronged us.  We can also spend our days weaving convoluted plots in order to avoid using these words, but in the end, the effect is the same: we become exhausted.

When offenses are committed and there is no apology, we must leave the unraveling of the consequences to God.  When we offend others and find it difficult to ask for forgiveness, we must surrender our pride and ask God for the best way to repent and atone.  In this way then, our exhaustion will be transformed into a new exuberance for life.

Written on May 21, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.fineart-china.com/htmlimg/image-64098.html

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Jeremiah 17:7-8: God is in Control

Tuesday, March 7, 2017god-is-in-control

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer on Sunday, February 26, 2017: It may not always be visible from our vantage point, but God is in control of all things, careful to provide for us despite our sins and those of others around us. Would the One who created us out of sheer love leave us to push through our struggles on our own? Even when we can’t see signs of [God’s] grace, – especially then – no action is more appropriate than to worship [God].

We can never hear this reminder too often

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit. (NRSV)

God says: I know that the world is quite successful in deceiving you. It gives you the impression that I have abandoned my creation and it asks you, “Where is your God?” I know how much you struggle with doubt and fear, but I am with you always and everywhere. I know how anxiety and depression fogs your senses, but I see, and hear, and live with you. My prophet Jeremiah reminds you of this. Listen to his words.

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
    the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
    putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
    never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
    bearing fresh fruit every season. (MSG)

When we look at other versions of these verses and allow their meaning to sink in, we begin to understand that we are not alone, we are not abandoned, and we are well and greatly loved.

 Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.2 (2011): 368. Print.  

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John 1:5: The Crack in Everythingrafter-lights

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. (GNT)

Canadian singer, songwriter-poet Leonard Cohen died last week and with his death came a remembrance of the haunting lyric of Anthem, from his 1992 CD entitled The Future. The verses speak to anyone anywhere on the political-social spectrum who worries about the state the planet’s diverse societies, or who has concern for planet Earth herself. Written in the key of Bb Minor, the song gives courage to those who strive for perfect peace, those who seek union in our diversity, those who tire from the struggle for justice. As the refrain repeats, Cohen reminds us that when despair comes upon us – as it always will during our tumultuous lives – we must celebrate what there is to celebrate, we must put aside the notion that our sacrifice earns us the reward we demand, and we must remember that light always pierces all false perfection to reveal the eternal truth that cannot be denied.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in. 

My dad was fond of telling us, when we brought injustice to his attention, that the truth always comes out in the end. This was his way of reminding us that ultimately, and always, God is in charge. Even when we cannot make sense of what happens around us. Even when we see nothing but disaster. Even when we feel nothing but fear.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. (MSG)

My dad also liked to remind us, when we brought evil to his attention, that we need to “let God worry about the other guy”. Do what you know you need to do, and don’t think you are God. Even when it looks as though humanity is bent on thwarting God’s economy. Even when society is determined to destroy itself. Even in the face of horrific evil.

And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (DRA)

crackWe know that corruption is present everywhere; and we must always do what we are called to do to stand against it. We know that darkness always seeks to overcome light and we must always nurture the light where we find it. And we know that the ignorance of darkness cannot overcome the knowing of God’s presence.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it. (ERV)

And so when we worry, when we strain against reality, when we forget that there are cracks in the everything to allow the light in, we might also remember the words of John the Beloved Apostle writing about the Christ.

Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out.

We remember that there is a crack in everything.

When we compare different translations of these verses, we discover that in God’s great design, there is a crack in everything . . . so that God’s  light might get in. 

To learn about Leonard Cohen, visit his official site at: https://www.leonardcohen.com/

Cohen’s Anthem can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCS_MwkWzes or click on the lyric above.

For Jennifer Dukes Lee’s reflection on Cohen’s verses and scripture, visit: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/what-your-broken-places-are-for/

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Galatians 6:1-10: Doing Good

Wednesday, August 3, 2016galatians_6.9_kjv_wallpaper.

If we are to pay our taxes and tithes as Jesus tells us, if we are to allow Christ to transform the stones we want to throw into stepping stones that save us from drowning, we may want again review the rules for the road we journey with Christ.

My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way . . . Keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too.

We listen to Jesus who brings us the fullness of the Law of Love.

Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.

We live the meekness of Christ to guard against the lure of pride.

If you think you are something when you really are nothing, you are only deceiving yourself.

We remember that God is the ultimate and only judge of our hearts.

You should each judge your own conduct. If it is good, then you can be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done.

We share the Good News humbly, gently and persistently.

If you are being taught the Christian message, you should share all the good things you have with your teacher.

We remember that God is in charge.

Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant.

We believe that we reap what we sow.

If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life.

We understand that we become weary from our determined striving through Christ.

So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.

We honor our relationship with God by doing good for and to others.

So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone.

We reflect today on these reminders of the Rules for the Road in our journey with Christ.


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