Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. How has the week played out for you? Can you look back and count your blessings? Were there any obstacles or stumbling blocks that were particularly hard? This week we look at the story of Job, a man of great faith who loved God through the bad times, as well as the good. Like Job, we can find ourselves facing extreme hardships, but the question is, will we react like Job? How strong is our faith? Get comfortable, take a deep breath, and let’s examine how we can use our faith to face the struggles of life.
In the story of Job, Job’s faith is intentionally tested. The ha-satan, a member of God’s court, proposes a wager with God because the ha-satan is sure Job will lose his faith, love and trust in God when faced with the loss of his animals, his livelihood, his health, and his loved ones. The ha-satan is sure Job will rebuke God. Have you ever faced so much heartache that you get angry with God and your faith “breaks”? When have you “fallen away” and doubt God cares, or even exists?
Job kept his faith even when all was lost and his body was covered in sores. He did not listen to his friends who told him his hardships must be his fault and that God was punishing him. He held onto his love of and trust in God. “…until I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days” (Job 27:5-6). Job states that suffering is not always the result of sin which was a radical assertion in his day, and an important one to affirm even today.
Perhaps you don’t walk away from your faith. But do you turn a bewildered and battered heart toward God and ask, “Why?” In my darkest moments, when my world feels like it is mortally wounded, my question is, “God, why did you even allow this to happen?” In our deepest despair many of us cry out , “Why, God? Why?” Why is my child sick? Why did a co-worker say those awful things? Why does the bullying never stop? Why….WHY? Job shows us that asking these hard and true questions is actually part of being in a relationship with God. His experience resonates with us. Job is at times confident of God’s love and compassion and places his full trust in God. At other times, Job is baffled by what happens in life and realizes there is so much about God he does not understand. But Job does know that God loves him and will listen to his rants and his lament and will hold him as a parent holds his child at the end of a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”. Have faith knowing that God’s love is steadfast.
In a recent discussion with friends (part of our weekly Friday, all-are-welcome, Zoom Lunch discussion), we talked about the value of faith. Faith makes us stronger and a result of faith is hope. If we have hope we can keep moving forward. That is worth repeating – a result of faith is hope and when we have hope we can keep moving forward.
So we need to build our faith so it becomes a shield of armor that we can use when faced with the onslaughts of life. There is a sense of peace knowing that we are prepared to face our struggles. So give your anxiousness to God.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath and exhale. Relax your shoulders and invite the Holy Spirit to live inside you. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with each breath. "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!" - Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) This is faith – a faith that brings hope that the blossoms will come again and the vines will bear fruit. Faith that God holds us in the palm of His hand.
Dear God, the Forger of Shields. Help us to build-up the metal of our shields and seek the possibilities and promises of tomorrow. During those times of duress, may we remember that You stand near, always ready to hold us close. May we delight in your love and feel safe in your arms, knowing your love is forever. Hear our prayer as we praise your goodness and accept your grace. Amen
Author - Bonnie Barber, Pastor of the Washington, DC Community of Christ and Mission/Social Justice Team Leader for the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center.