As We Study the Book of Job
On New Year’s Eve morning, I began a four part series on the book of Job. I will continue that series for the next three weeks.
A lot of people think that the book of Job is just about a good man who suffers a lot, is patient in the suffering, and then is rewarded for the patience. But, it’s actually quite a lot more complex and interesting than that. It’s about the mystery of God and the frustration of unanswered questions. It’s about the need to lament and to give thanks as an expression of ultimate faith.
In the first sermon, I gave a disclaimer; that I am not an expert on suffering, at least experientially. I have a happy marriage and family; I’ve had a pretty healthy life; I have friends, all of my siblings and parents are still living and relatively happy, and I love my profession and colleagues. But I’ve had dark times, as you have. And, as a pastor, I’ve walked with a lot of people through dark times.
But, it’s not about comparing suffering. That’s actually a tactic of the devil- to have us compare our trials with others, which ends up with us either belittling their suffering or our own. But, everyone’s suffering is their own- and no one’s pain is unimportant or less compelling.
And if you haven’t suffered much, stay in ‘the game’ long enough, and you will. Life can pretty much guarantee you that. And we want to help prepare you to suffer well (although I realize it’s a little bit like having children- nothing really prepares you for the experience of having children). Still, there are some things you can do ahead of time to help you survive.
Evan Welcher, a pastor who wrote a book about his wife’s death from cancer, writes: “The question of whether we will still walk with the Lord even when all is taken from us is a dark forest every Christian must walk through, alone, with God. I invite you to walk through it before the hypothetical becomes reality.”
In other words, maybe the best time to think about suffering is not when you’re going through it, but before you do. And one way to prepare yourself for suffering is to read & enter in to other peoples’ stories- and that’s what the book of Job invites us to do.
I hope to see you Sunday.