Devotions for Job 42:7-16
August 1-7, 2016
Monday, August 1, 2016
“My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends” (Job 42:7a).
It is difficult to practice what we preach. The story-teller of Job found this to be true. For forty-one chapters of his story, he has sought to tell his listeners that neither their misfortune nor their blessings were directly related to their pleasing or displeasing God. Now, as the story-teller wraps up his story he has the threat of God’s wrath directed at Job’s three friends. Suddenly there is a disconnect.
The story-teller may have revealed to us a very human trait. God’s steadfast love, overwhelming grace and unconditional forgiveness is beyond our belief and understanding. Punishment is so much a part of our lives that we cannot imagine lives without it. Yet the truth of God’s love is what the Holy Spirit continually reminds us. Bad times do not come from God nor do they separate us from God.
God of love, enable us to always remember your love and to walk in the freedom that it provides us. Amen.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
“For you have not spoken what is right” (Job 42:7b).
Job’s three friends were quick to share their thoughts and opinions with Job, and they believed that they spoke the word of God. Job successfully refuted their accusations and judgments. He was not what they claimed him to be. Now, as the story of Job draws to a close we read that the words of Job’s three friends were not right and they were not pleasing to the Lord.
Job’s three friends teach us a lesson. We live at a time when there are deep divisions between people. We are slow to listen and we are quick to argue. In our haste to proclaim what is right our words can appear to be judgmental and condemning. We might be more like Job’s friends than we want to be. In such a climate, we as disciples of Jesus are challenged to speak words of respect and love. We may not win the argument, but we will remain true to our calling.
Divine word, enable us to speak words of love to our friends and our enemies and to those who agree with us and those who don’t. Amen.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
“My servant Job shall pray for you” (Job 42:8a).
Sometimes the words, “I’ll pray for you,” slip off our tongues all too quickly. We make a brash commitment to pray and then forget to do what we have promised. At other times the offer to pray seems to be so superficial. We want to do more, but for one reason or another we are limited to prayer. As disciples of Jesus prayer is a part of our lives. Prayer can be a very powerful part of our lives.
Ken and Mary sat by the hospital bed of their son. He had been critically injured in an automobile accident. The people of the congregation where Ken and Mary worshiped heard what had happened and immediately began to pray. Later, when their son had recovered and returned home, Ken and Mary shared during a worship service how they had felt supported and encouraged by those prayers. Over coffee at the local coffee shop Carlota shared about her troubled marriage with a close friend. Near the end of their time together Carlota’s friend offered to pray for her. There in the coffee shop with bowed heads and holding hands they prayed and Carlota felt peace and hope flow into her life.
It may be a cliché, but it is true. “Prayer Changes Things.” Alleluia!
O Holy Listener, hear our prayers as we lift up the needs of others and our own needs to you. Amen.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
“I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly” (Job 42:8b).
Surely Job’s three friends rejoiced when they heard that the Lord would not deal with them according to their folly. We can join Job’s three friends. We too have received God’s mercy and God has not dealt with us according to our folly. We are not rare cases, however. Throughout history God has not dealt with God’s people according to their folly.
In the garden of Eden God clothed Adam and Eve after their rebellion. In the Sinai desert God wanted to vent God’s wrath against God’s people when they crafted the golden calf as their idol/god. Moses interceded and God withheld God’s fury and then for the next forty years God lead the Israelites, provided for their needs and defeated their enemies. God forgave David’s folly with Bathsheba and established a covenant with David for his continued dynasty. Once the Israelites were in the Promise Land, God forgave their inclination to follow idols and false Gods. When Jesus had breathed his last God forgave all of humanity who had nailed God’s son to the cross.
Thank the Lord that God does not deal with us according to our folly. God is not a God of judgment and wrath. God is a God of love who wants the very best for God’s people and all of God’s creation.
Forgiving God, thank you that you do not judge us or condemn us, but rather forgive us, correct us, and assure us of your love. Amen.
Friday, August 5, 2016
“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job” (Job 42:10).
The teller of Job’s story must be the prototype of the American playwright and scrip writer. He had to create a happy ending. Unlike some of the European plays and movies, American plays and movies usually have an ending where good defeats evil and there is at least a hint of hope. After all of Job’s suffering and his misguided rantings God restored everything that Job had lost. In the end Job had twice as much as he had when the story began. It would be nice if life was like that, but it is not.
Even with the miracles of modern medicine there is no guarantee that our prayers will be answered and our loved ones healed. A better job with more money and nicer bosses is not a sure thing when we lose our job. We trudge through our trials and tribulations not know what is in our future.
There is only one thing that we can be sure of—God’s steadfast love. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and God has kept all the promises that were made. We are not alone and often God sends family, friends and sometimes even strangers to walk with us through the tough times and help us over the obstacles before us. Assured of God’s love and grace we place one foot in front of the other and continue the journey toward the end of our suffering.
Trustworthy God, move in us that we may rest in your promises as we live each day loving you and serving our neighbor. Amen.
Saturday, August 6, 2016
“Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before” (42:11).
Twelve year-old Stacey was diagnosed with cancer. Her treatment involved several bouts of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. She was in the hospital for weeks on end and surprisingly she had very few visitors. Many of her schoolmates were uncomfortable with her illness and didn’t know what to say. Others were too busy with their own lives and interests. When Stacey returned to school her friends were quick to reestablish their relationships with her, but they couldn’t walk with her through the dark days.
Job had a similar experience. Everyone abandoned him except for his three friends who play major roles in his story. The story-teller used the return of Job’s family and friends to illustrate the reversal of Job’s plight and the renewal of Job’s fortunes. Still, we can question the closeness and strength of the relationship Job had with them. On the surface it appears that they were “fair weather friends.” Even though they did not speak what is right, at least Job’s three friends stayed with Job.
Walking with someone through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23) is not easy. There are many times when we will not know what to do or to say. It is important, though, that we are present to bear each other’s burdens. Being present is not only what friends do, it is our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Loving Lord, you walk with us through our most difficult days. Empower us to walk with those around us who are going through difficult times and who should not be alone. Amen.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
“Job died old and full of days” (Job 42:17).
There are times when life hurts us so badly that we hesitate reengaging. We don’t want to be hurt again. We don’t want to open ourselves up to the possibility of repeating our sufferings and struggles. There are times when we echo those famous words of movie star Greta Garbo, “I want to be alone.”
Job resisted the temptation. After his suffering he reentered life with gusto. He managed his riches, had more children and lived a full life into old age. Job had learned an important lesson during his journey through suffering. He realized that God was a powerful God who was intimately involved in his life. Job understood that God would never forsake him. Such knowledge allowed Job to step into his new life with courage, faith and hope.
Job’s God is our God. God’s steadfast love is something that we have experienced. God’s presence and power are things to which we can bear witness. These truths enable us to take our first steps into the day, and begin our journey into the future.
Faithful Lord, like Job, may we live the full and abundant lives that you created us to live. Amen.