Scripture Focus: Job 27.8-12
8 For what hope have the godless when they are cut off,
when God takes away their life?
9 Does God listen to their cry
when distress comes upon them?
10 Will they find delight in the Almighty?
Will they call on God at all times?
11 “I will teach you about the power of God;
the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal.
12 You have all seen this yourselves.
Why then this meaningless talk?
Reflection: Learning from the Suffering
By John Tillman
Job, prior to his experiences, believed similarly to his friends—bad things happen to bad people. Despite being an exception to this rule, Job still expresses this view in verses 13-23.
Despite experiencing things he thought only happened to the wicked, Job still believed God faithful. Job testified to the benefits of his faith. Unlike the godless, Job had hope even in death. While the godless cried out to nothingness, Job expectantly waited for God to hear his cry. Job had a source of delight in God at all times. Job realized that others had something to learn from him about God.
Job’s suffering did not change the core of what he believed. If anyone had reason to walk away from faith, it was Job. Were we in Job’s place, it’s easy to imagine we’d remain faithful. It is more realistic to imagine responding as Job’s wife did: “curse God and die.” It is wiser to pray that in any test of faith we will be sustained by God’s grace, not our own grit. It is also wise for us to extend grace to those experiencing suffering from which we have been spared.
In our world, there is debate about how to treat Christians who, for various reasons, are deconstructing their faith. Many “deconstructors” are spurred into this process by suffering. Some experienced sexual abuse or abuse of power. Many witnessed the defense and covering up of these kinds of abuse. Some were run out of their churches over politics. Some were cast out for being whistleblowers. Their stories are numerous and varied.
When people, like Job, have had fire fall on their lives, they have reasons for doubt. Do we treat them as Job’s friends treated him? With pointless moralizing and self-righteous condemnation?
Deconstructing people are not wolves to be hunted but fellow sheep—often attacked and wounded sheep. And even if they do choose to completely reject the faith…how are we supposed to treat unbelievers? With disdain? No. With accusations and attacks? No.
Like Job, may we maintain our faith in the face of whatever fire may fall in our futures. May we be gracious to those in crises of faith, not treating them as enemies but as those wounded by our great enemy. They are worthy of any effort we can make to rescue them and we may have something to learn from them about God.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For who is God, but the Lord? Who is the Rock, except our God? — Psalm 18.32
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
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Read more about The Ever-Patient Agriculturalist
The purpose in deconstruction is reconstruction.
The purpose in uprooting is to replant.
May we rejoice in being pruned and replanted.