Thursday, November 20, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH JOB

I'll spend a few blogs talking about some of my learnings from my recent read through the book of Job out of The Message Bible. Before blogging chapter by chapter, here are some initial thoughts I gleaned from Eugene Peterson's introductory comments.

Why is this book so important to us? First, because Job suffered in the same areas we do--family, personal health, and material things. Second, because he took his questions to the top--to God Himself. It is suffering when we are trying to do everything right that angers us and causes us to question God.

It is important to remember that Job does not seek to get rid of the problem by getting rid of God. Nor does he explain suffering. Nor does he tell us how to live to avoid suffering. It is a mystery, and he comes to respect the mystery. Job finds himself in a greater mystery--the mystery of God--and how suffering can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship--full of wonder, love, and praise. Real faith can't be reduced to spiritual platitudes. It is refined in the fires and storms of pain and suffering.

When dealing with and ministering to friends going through suffering, we must not try to fix them or provide "simple" answers to their "why" questions. We must keep in mind that we don't really fully understand their problems. They may not want our advice. Followers of Christ may actually suffer more. So instead of trying to prevent suffering (which we can't anyway), we should enter the suffering as much as we are able and look around for God. We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and join them in protest and prayer. Shared suffering can be life-changing. Reading Job prayerfully helps us face the questions that arise when things don't turn out as we planned or hoped for.

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