Devotions for July 11-17, 2016
Job 14:7-15, 19:23-27
Monday, July 11, 2016
“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down it will sprout again” (Job 14:7).
It had been a harrowing nine months for Salvador. A routine colonoscopy had discovered polyps that were cancerous. Salvador had endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Throughout the process Salvador had been determined to beat the cancer. There were some day, though, when he wanted to give up and die. Now, the surgery was in the past and the chemotherapy and radiation treatments were complete. The doctor had just told Salvador that he was cancer free. So many months had passed since he felt alive and well, but now Salvador felt like life was beginning again.
Talk about tough times. Not only had Job endured the loss of his family, wealth and health, but he also had to sit through hours of accusing lectures by his friends. Days and weeks had passed. Job was over the shock of the tragedy and the pain caused by his loss was less raw. Inner healing had begun anew it brought with it the first rays of hope. Job looked around at the trees. When they were cut down sprouts would appear from the roots and the tree would live again. Job wondered if that might be what could happen to him.
When the days are dark and we despair, God is still with us walking beside us through those terrible days. The Spirit moves and though not much has changed we begin to see the first rays of hope. Life may not be fully extinguished. We will live again!
Oh God, you have conquered death. Overcome that which has befallen us and bring us hope. Amen.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
“But mortals die, and are laid low humans expire, and where are they” (Job 14:10)?
Job expresses an opinion of death that is common in the pages of the Old Testament. There is no heaven or hell. Instead there is Sheol, the place of the dead. The writer of Job may have been very intentional in not emphasizing life after death. His purpose was to address the topic of suffering, how we react to suffering, and how we live in its presence. The writer’s view is rather pessimistic and can be summed up in the modern adage, “Crap happens and then you die.” Humans have less hope than a tree (that can sprout again).
We live after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is important to view our suffering from that perspective. Jesus has conquered death. Our physical death is not the end of life, but rather a new beginning. Standing back and looking at our suffering from the perspective of eternity diminishes the darkness and despair of suffering; it lets in a ray of hope. Our pain and suffering are still real. Our lives are not defined by our suffering, however, but rather by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Precious Jesus, we thank you for what you have done for us and for how it impacts our lives today. May it empower us in our struggles and in our service. Amen.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
“That you would appoint me a set time and remember me” (Job 14:13).
One of the great joys of the technological age is the ability to fast forward through commercials. No longer do we need to sit through several minutes of various sales pitches before we are able to return to our program. Now we press a button and within a few seconds we are back to the story.
Job appeals to God to fast forward through his suffering, or at least allow him to sleep through it in the realm of Sheol. In his request, Job envisions a time when God would be more visibly active in Job’s life and would bring order out of chaos. Again, there is a glimmer of hope.
There are those days when we’d like to pull the covers over our head and sleep through the problems of our lives or at least fast forward through them. Though this is not possible, we do rejoice in the fact that God does remember us and God is involved in our lives. We live our days in the comfort and hope that this knowledge provides for us.
Comforting God, there are days when we want to escape from life. During these times help us to rest in your embrace and find hope in your presence. Amen.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
“You would call and I would answer you” (Job 14:15).
Akihito and his wife Kauru had a strong marriage, but it wasn’t without its bumps. They were currently experiencing one of those bumps. Kauru had been offered a substantial promotion, but it meant a move from one coast to the other. The promotion/move also meant that Akihito would need to give up his career at his company. The two had discussed it–loudly–but had not arrived at a solution. Presently there was an icy silence between them. Both Akihito and Kauru wanted to return to the close, loving relationship that they usually enjoyed, but they didn’t know how to get there.
The tragedies that Job experienced had disrupted his relationship with God. The pain and grief that he felt masked the sense of God’s presence and love in his life. Job longed for a restoration of his relationship with God when communication would be free and clear; God would call and he would answer. Job had the hope that there restoration would take place.
Like our other relationships, our relationship with God has its ups and downs. There are times when we feel so close to God and other times when God appears to be silent and distant. Even the strongest of faith and the most “saintly” among us experience these ups and down. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives reminding us of God’s love, renewing our trust and restoring our relationship. Again there will be a time when God will call and we will answer.
God of Steadfast Love, thank you that you do not forsake us. Remind, renew and restore us so that we may be equipped to share our blessings and serve. Amen.
Friday, July 15, 2016
“O that my words were written down … They were engraved on a rock forever” (Job 19:23-27).
On her refrigerator Carol Thomas had posted the Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). The verse enabled her to face each new day with courage and confidence that God was with her and would empower her to do whatever God called her to do. It is said that Martin Luther as he struggled against his enemies would repeat the phrase, “I have been baptized.” These words reminded him that God had claimed him as God’s own, had forgiven his sinfulness and brought Luther into the family of God.” Standing on that firm ground enabled Luther to accomplish all that he did.
Job wishes that his words could be written in stone forever. They were words of hope; words that helped him through his suffering.
Powerful words are written in the Bible. “For God so loved the world,” is inscribed on the cross of Christ. When Jesus was baptized the heavens were torn open and God proclaimed, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” God proclaims those same words at our baptism. These words are written down on paper, on rocks and in our hearts.
Lord God, thank you for your words of hope. May we never forget them. Amen.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
“For I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).
In Old Testament times a few people were called redeemers. These people were peace makers and would seek to reconcile people and families. If offense had been given, the redeemers would seeks to sooth the offense. If there was a debt, the redeemer would pay the debt. Redeemers would look after their family members and work so that no harm came to them.
Job’s words have often been linked to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We have no way of knowing to what type of redeemer Job was referring. We do know that though we may not have an earthly redeemer, we still have a redeemer. This redeemer has freed us from slavery and walks with us through our daily lives. Our redeemer lives and gives us hope.
Loving God, thank you for moving to redeem us. Now that we are free, empower us to live our lives in service to you and in love of our neighbors. Amen.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
“When I shall see on my side” (Job 19:27).
Job has walked a long path. He was first struck down with unimaginable tragedy. He walked through the slew of despair and wished that he had never been born. His three friends have assailed him with their accusations, and slowly the light of his journey changed from complete darkness to a glimmer of light and hope on the horizon. Job still had a long way to go on his journey, but he had traveled a long distance.
In our modern world we are destination orientated. We are not so concerned with the country that we drive through as we are with getting to where we want to go (especially if we have restless children in the back). We are usually in a hurry to get to where we are headed, also. We can hurry through some trips that we make, but the journey through grief and the tragedies of life is not one of them. The journey is long and it takes time. During our journey, however, we have the hope that we shall see God and at the end of the journey we shall see God more clearly. This hope doesn’t end the journey but it does transform it.
Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus. Amen.