Job 31-32 B

Job’s final speech in 31 is a weird list of all the sins he could have committed to deserve this, but didn’t. It’s his last stand before he falls silent and Elihu steps forward to “take a stab at it”.

“I too will answer my share, I also will tell my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, like new wineskins it is about to burst. Let me speak that I may get relief; let me open my lips and answer.” (32:17-20)

This reminds me of someone who has withheld their opinion about something on Facebook as long as they could, and is about to explode.

While Elihu’s opinion shapes up to be bit more nuanced and thoughtful than his elders, it still falls short. Why? It’s still one man’s opinion.

No one has the perspective and insight as our Creator, obviously, but I think we can still glean something from Elihu (I hope so, he gets 6 chapters).

Today, let’s just zero in on the fact he waited his turn. He let the elders speak first, and I’m sure extensive listening helped him formulate a more robust point of view.

Waiting and listening, longer than I’m naturally comfortable, has been a major growing point for me in recent years. I’ve always been quick-witted and interested to hear what I think as it’s tumbling out of my mouth. While it’s proven entertaining, it hasn’t always been helpful.

Learning to listen is invaluable. Anything employing humility and self-control will be beneficial at some point.

We can’t just react. Our media cycles are insane, and it usually takes a couple days for full stories to emerge. We do well to be patient.

When was a time you waited to weigh in on something and it paid off?

-Bethany

Job 29-30 B

There’s something humbling Job’s description of his past self. It’s sad, but also reminds me that our lives can turn upside down so quickly.

I was also imagining meeting Job during this season of his life. He’s deeply depressed, in a constant state of sorrow and blaming it all on God. Have you met someone like this? Maybe you don’t have context for their suffering and as long as you’ve known them, they’ve been a heap of grief and pain.

If you didn’t know Job before his life fell apart, you wouldn’t know all those wonderful things about him that he mentions in chapter 29. He helped the blind, the poor, strangers and widows. People stood up when he walked in to a room. He was often honored, revered. Everyone was on the edge of their seats for his perspective, advice or even just one of his smiles.

Reading these chapters on Job’s former life reminds me to keep in mind that I don’t know the full scope of where people are with the Lord and why. Suffering changes a person.

Is there someone in your life who is in a steep amount of pain? What do you find yourself assuming about them? Or their relationship with God?

-Carly

Job 27-28 B

Where can wisdom be found?

“God understands its way, and He knows its place… And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.'” (28:23; 28)

This section makes me feel like Solomon could have written it. Those familiar thoughts on wisdom. Coming from Job, they highlight the futility of judging the infinite goodness of God from the finite perspective of man.

While men cannot mine wisdom as they can other resources, they do seek to trade in it. These passages read, to me, like Job saying, “Cut that out. Stop talking like you have wisdom when you don’t.”

It’s a precious commodity only the LORD can grant and which is entirely wrapped up in humility, since the fear of the LORD is the beginning of it.

How often do you ask for wisdom? When you think maybe you have it, do you recognize where it came from, or do you let it boost your pride?

Ask the LORD about wisdom today.

-Bethany

Job 23-26 B

Job poses an interesting, and relatable, question…why do bad things happen to godly people? Why are evil people seemingly getting away with everything and terrible, senseless acts are falling on the heads of good people?

If you have a relationship with God, you’ve wondered this as well. Why does that nice person from church have cancer? Why did the young pastor’s wife with three kids tragically lose her husband? Why in the world did God step aside and invite Satan to dismantle Job’s life and completely destroy everything he knew and loved?

As Job makes abundantly clear in chapter 26, he’s well aware of God’s power and sovereignty over creation. He knows nothing can compete with his power and authority, and that there’s no room for sin in his presence. I kinda laughed at his tongue-in-cheek retort to Bildad. As we read (EVER SO SLOWLY) through the chapters of Job, I’m reminded what not to do when you’re coming alongside someone in their suffering. Basically: you need to be quiet.

There isn’t a pep talk in the world that can provide the answers only God holds.

“God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds.” 26:7-9

 

-Carly

Job 21-22 B

“How often is the lamp of the wicked put out, Or does their calamity fall on them? Does God apportion destruction in His anger?” (21:17‬)

This book is full of assumptions about God rewarding good and disciplining evil. Indeed, it is what we often struggle with and somehow came to expect.

But then it hit me:

If the world was made up of a reward-wrath system based on reacting to the daily whims of 7 million people, IT WOULD BE TOTAL CHAOS.

Thank God our actions don’t have that much affect. Thank God we are nearly powerless. Thank God He holds things in balance while we rage and rejoice; tossing and turning.

While we’d like to be rewarded for every good thing we do, it is not going to happen, because the world does not revolve around us.

Certainly, there are natural consequences to things, both good and bad. Probably, you will do well in this world if you live justly, kindly, and humbly. In many cases you do “reap what you sow”, but also there is a lot more going on. We cannot shake our fists at God as if we are the only people here.

We joke about this in sports. Which team’s fan’s prayers will be answered favorably? We joke about this in weather. Will the LORD bring the farmer his rain, or will He hold it off for the bride’s big day?

Do we ever think that our affliction is the answer to someone else’s blessing? Probably not, because we are self centered by nature.

It makes sense that when God eventually responds to Job, it’s largely a “you don’t know what you’re talking about”.

We don’t know what we are talking about. We don’t have the perspective to be viable judges. We think God will wield the universe in accordance to our deeds and it is just not so. Thank God.

We need to take a step back from our own drama and put things into perspective. What will that look like for you today?

-Bethany

Job 19-20 B

I like that this thought:

“I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me. I protest, but there is no justice. God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness.” (19:7)

Can be in the same stream of consciousness as this thought:

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.” (19:25)

Our time in Job is dragging on and on; it feels like we’ll never be finished with this book. But could someone really pen a short, concise book on how human suffering correlates with God? Doubtful.

The sentences from above, separated by only a couple paragraphs, are a true reflection of a life with God. Someone can, in one breath, claim that the Lord has submerged their life into darkness, only to proclaim he’s the only one who can provide the light to redeem it.

The book of Job shows us that pain and anger towards God can coexist with our faith in him. It has to, right? If you have a relationship with God and don’t have some unanswered questions about his sovereignty over human suffering, you’re not paying attention.

Don’t be afraid for there to be question marks in your faith and don’t let it motivate you to avoid prayer, reading his Word or obeying his voice.

In a few chapters, God will have an answer for Job (and from what I remember, it just leads to more questions).

 

-Carly

Job 17-18 B

One of the stages of grief is anger. When you are the friend of a grieving person, expect a moment when they may lash out. Then, don’t take it personally and retaliate.

Job is in the pit of despair and it seems his friends are beginning to kick him as he’s down. Certainly, it was never their original intention to get judgmental or accusatory, but that’s where it’s ended up.

There’s a popular saying that “hurting people hurt people.” I think that’s true, but this shouldn’t dissuade us from comforting our friends. Just be prepared for things to get ugly, and try to be gracious.

I know I can be quite the lunatic under a certain amount of pressure. I also have been called out for taking my stress out on loved ones.

So how would I like to be handled when my frustration lands on someone I didn’t want it to? I’d like them to know I don’t mean it. I’d like them to know I’m sorry and I love them and probably need them. With this in mind, I can prepare myself to absorb a little messiness when comforting a grieving friend.

Sure, we should all do our best not to lash out, but in the messiness of life, we should be more prepared to be gracious than to be perfect.

-Bethany