Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016: Job 1-4 - by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Job 1-4

On to the book of Job....

Job is the book that answers the question that most people wonder: Why do bad things happen to good people?

One of the things that really stuck out for me through these passages was that Satan didn't ask about Job or choose Job but God said  in verse 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

God suggested Job. God knew Job. God basically threw Job under the bus so to speak. We have to know that when bad things happen to good people maybe...just maybe God already knows that the people can handle it. It won't be easy but they can make it through.

I found this commentary about the book of Job and I like how the author summarizes Job's catastrophes and his initial reaction to what was, without a doubt, the worst day of his life (so far):

 Here is a man going about his private affairs, unaware that he has suddenly become the center of God's attention. For the time being all of God's activity has focused upon him, and he has become the battleground for a conflict between God and Satan in which God is planning to pull the rug out from under Satan, and to reveal him as the phony that he is. Job is that battleground, and Satan immediately moves in with shock troops.

In chapter 1 we read that, one by one, the props are pulled out of Job's life. It is a though some Western Union telegram boy delivers a series of messages to Job about terrible catastrophes. Hard on the heels of the first comes another one, and the messages keep coming in. First, all Job's oxen have been taken by enemy raids, and then all his asses have been decimated. Next, word comes that his sheep have been killed by a terrible electric storm, and crowding in after that is the news that his great herd of camels, true wealth in the oriental world, has been wiped out in a natural catastrophe. Then comes the heartrending news that his seven sons and three daughters were together in one home enjoying a birthday celebration when a great tornado hit and the house was demolished. All of his children were killed in one fatal blow.
Job takes it all in stride. At the end of chapter 1 his response to this terrible series of tragic, senseless accidents is:

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gives, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21)

I wonder if we would have responded that way?

I can say that likely my first reaction would not have been the same as Job's. I can't imagine losing all my "props" in my life in one terrifying message after another until everything was lost. It reminds me that none of the things of this world are really guaranteed and that maybe I should loosen my grip just a little bit.

Our oldest daughter is leaving in less than two weeks to go to France for about 3 months. It's terrifying. We want to control things and we really want to know what is going to happen next. It's really hard to let go of the "things" you hold dearly. I know God has big plans on the horizon and that loosening my grip will help those plans to begin. We just have to trust, as Job did, that God has everything under control even when we don't see it.

Something else that stood out for me during today's reading was when Job's wife said in Chapter 2 verse Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Maybe I'm reading too much into this but is Job's wife telling Job to kill himself? I think with all the news lately about the "right to die" and euthanasia cases before the courts that life has been reduced to nothing. Doctors and patients are playing God and deciding when to end life. No doubt that life in pain is a burden but who should decide when our time on earth is done? Is deciding to end our life the same as cursing God? Is it telling everyone that we know better than God when we should pass away? I'm not sure if this is what Job's wife was implying but it stood out for me today.

I loved that Job's friends just showed up. I read this blog about a Mom who lost her son (who's the same age as our middle daughter) in a freak accident a few years ago. She wrote this list of ways to help a grieving family and #6 on her list is to just show up. I like that Job had friends, who at least in the beginning, were just there to support Job. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

At this point the whole book slightly shifts its focus. We now are no longer looking only at Job but also at his controversy with these three friends, and their discourse occupies the major part of the book. From their human (very human) point of view, they attempt to answer that same haunting question, "Why do senseless tragedies afflict men?" The major part of the book, written in beautifully poetic language, records the attempts by these men to come to an answer. And the three friends' answers are all the same. They answer the question of Job's problems with smug, dogmatic assurances that only one explanation is possible: he has committed some awful sin. They try to break down Job's defenses with arguments.
Now, they are not necessarily wrong in their explanation. There are tragic events -- catastrophes, heartache, pain, and suffering -- which do occur because of sin. Any time that we violate the laws of God's universe, including the laws of health, there is an immediate and sometimes violent physical reaction and much suffering comes from that. But the problem in his friends' arguments -- and their evil -- lay in their dogmatic assertion that this is the only explanation possible for all kinds of suffering. (Emphasis mine)

I think it is our human nature to think that there HAVE to be reasons for bad things to happen.  So many times we encounter things that just do not have any explanation: a young father dying suddenly from car crash, a teen failing to win a battle against an aggressive cancer, a mom fighting against the effects of a brain tumour and losing, miscarriage, still birth, infertility, etc. etc. We want to explain those things away because if they have a cause then we can wrap our heads around it and maybe even avoid it happening to us....

People don't always suffer because they deserve it. could be argued that our sinful nature does beg to be punished in a way that grabs our attention as to just how dirty sin is in the eyes of a Holy God. Job did not bring on this magnitude of suffering by his sin. He recognized that God is the giver and the taker and that we need to praise him at all times. I think one of the hardest things for me when reading the book of Job is that I don't know if I could act as Job did when he dealt with all of the things God allowed him to experience.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Job 5-8


Conrad said...

Good point about the hardest part of reading Job is not being sure if we could act as Job did.

And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." - Job 1:21

This verse stood out for me too as it would be hard to even fake a comment like that. Today's reading is a good reminder that everything we receive, good and bad, are from God. In both scenarios we are to praise God.

Nathan Reimer said...

That verse stood out to me too.

As I was reading this portion of the book of Job, I kept thinking if this happened to Job it could also happen to me, or anyone else. We are so vulnerable, and could loose anything at any time. Everything we have is from God, and we don't control many things either. Only one or two "bad breaks" would be all it takes to change things. We all look for security, but the only true security is found in trusting and having faith in God. This automatically humbles me, I see how small and powerless I really am. Why would I then not fully devote myself to God? He is the only source of strength and security.

TammyIsBlessed said...

God knew, not so much that Job could handle the catastrophes about to befall him, but that Job's faith could handle it. That the catastrophes would not reveal his faith to be a superficial false faith, where Job only "followed" God for the benefits. But rather that Job's faith was genuine, and that he followed God for who He was, not what He could do for him. No one can handle, on their own strength, what Job had to go through. Though Job very understandably fell into great despair, and questioned God, ultimately His faith prevailed. Do we have that genuine faith that can withstand the worst this life has to offer?

TammyIsBlessed said...

I, too, loved how Job's friends initially just sat and grieved with him. If only they had stuck to that! Your presence with a grieving friend is far more valuable that any trite words we can offer. In these cases, it is far wiser to allow our presence to do the talking.

Greg Funk said...

I like the verse Job 1:21 that has been commented on.

The conversation with God and Satan in Verse 12 got me thinking.
Job 1:12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

God is fully aware of every attempt by Satan to bring suffering and difficulty upon us. While God may allow us to suffer for a reason beyond our understanding, he is never caught by surprise by our troubles and is always compassionate.

Another point that is that God obviously can allow some things to happen that, quite frankly, seem awful from our earthly perspective. In one day Job has just lost his entire wealth and possessions and all of his children. There are many hard thoughts and questions that are posed in the book of Job and this is certainly one of them.