Have you ever commended someone for having “the patience of Job”? It’s curious how that expression developed when the story is not at all about Job being patient.Read More
Life is painfully miserable for Job and he has no idea why. Our natural response to anything unwelcome is to ask why. Why this? Why me? Why now?
My mother suffered from Alzheimer disease and her agonizing questions were always a variation of “What have I done to deserve this? Why is God punishing me? “
Aren’t we prone to ask the same questions whenever we face difficulties?
“Worship is the appropriate place for us to bring our greatest grief and deepest suffering into the presence of God.” I read the words, by author J. David Pleins in his book The Psalms: Songs of Tragedy, Hope and Justice, with a touch of incredulity. He can’t be serious! I thought.Read More suffering, worship
Sometimes when we read the Old Testament we forget that the people living then did not have the New Testament with the full revelation of God that we have in Jesus. Still less did Job and his contemporaries, who did not even live in Israel and were probably not Jewish. There is no evidence that they had access to any of the Old Testament. So how did they know about God?Read More suffering, theology, Ancient Near East, revelation
Did you notice? Where Eliphaz, in the last chapter, had challenged Job on the basis of his theology, Job’s response is of a different order. He doesn’t even bother with Eliphaz’ theology. It is God himself that Job is seeking.
But God is nowhere to be found. Job is sure that if he could lay his case before him, God would pay attention to him, and acquit him.Read More suffering, honesty
In the midst of Job’s despair comes this “jewel” of a poem about wisdom.Stop and think for a moment about the most beautiful jewellery you have ever seen, perhaps in a museum. Think about how much these jewels are treasured. For centuries men have tunnelled underground to bring these things to light. Savour the description of vv 1-11.Read More suffering, wisdom
Wow – what is happening in this psalm? Has the psalmist done something so terrible that God is furious? What’s this discipline thing about? Is the Psalmist dying of some illness – or what?
Well, we are not told. What we do read is that the psalmist feels rebuked and disciplined and is crying out for help and for mercy . . . again. But this time there is a cry for healing, for release from pain and sleeplessness.Read More suffering, prayer, healing
Though only thirty years old, Joseph had already endured much suffering: slavery, betrayal, false accusations, and imprisonment. Now, he is governor of all Egypt! He has a wife and two sons. He names his first son, Manasseh, which means, “God has let me forget all my troubles and my family back home.” And he names his second son, Ephraim, which means, “God has made me a success in the land where I suffered.”Read More suffering, Joseph
Finally, the deception is over! We feel the relief and Joseph’s emotion.
Joseph tells his brothers that it wasn’t really them who “sent” him to Egypt; it was God (v 8). Pause and think for a moment about this amazing statement. Joseph can see the “big picture.” He is not absorbed in his own situation, or filled with resentment about the past.Read More suffering, Joseph, big-picture