Where is God when trouble comes? How do we maintain faith when tragedy strikes? What does God’s love mean for the parent who buries a child, the family whose home is washed away by a flood, or the wife who watches her husband disappear into the fog of Alzheimer’s disease? When we ask such anguished questions, we’re in the company of Job.
For the next five weeks, readings from the book of Job prompt us to ponder and pray about life’s disorienting experiences. Job doesn’t give us definitive answers to our hardest questions; instead, it offers reassuring responses, which help to heal our fears. It speaks to our hearts even more than to our minds; it doesn’t just add to our knowledge, it increases our wisdom. Job is about restoring trust in God’s goodness.
Job is from Uz, an Edomite city. He isn’t Jewish, but he’s ardently devoted to Israel’s God. He is wealthy, enjoys his community’s respect, and cares attentively for his family. He also has a settled understanding of how God relates to human beings: God gives people what they deserve; loyalty to God leads to blessings from God. Job assumes his comfortable certainty is a sign of God’s favor.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, however, Job’s comfortable world will collapse, along with his confidence in God. In distress, this good man, who has depended on God, faces the hard truth that faith doesn’t protect us from pain. As his story unfolds, we see how he courageously faces disillusionment, wrestles with God, and, eventually, develops a wider and wiser faith. His witness calls us to do the same, to struggle with suffering and with God and, eventually, discover that the worst things are followed by new and hopeful things.
What hard realities have you been reluctant to admit to other people and to hash-out with God in your prayers?
God, give me courage and faith to speak the truth in love, especially in my conversations with you. Amen.