What is the nature of relationship between God and human beings? Are we in a symbiotic relationship that rewards behavior? Job is a person of integrity—at least before his life falls apart. But how much integrity does he retain after his losses? In blow after blow, Satan challenges Job with the loss of livestock, servants, transportation, and children. In the face of his world falling apart, Job offers an astonishing statement of faith, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Satan barters with God “skin for skin,” and we realize that this is more than marketplace language; Satan afflicts Job’s entire body with sores. With his health attacked, Job is left with a ripped robe and a broken piece of pottery to scrape his body. What does blessing look like? Not like this, we say. Blessing looks like Job’s prior life when he had health, wealth, and possibilities.
When all four of our children were small and my wife and I took everyone out to eat, calamity and chaos ensued. Often someone would stop by our table and say, “You sure have your hands full.” We knew we had our hands full; those words were not helpful. Every now and then a person would stop by and say to our chaos, “You have a beautiful family.” Now that was a gift of seeing blessing in the midst of calamity.
Job’s wife invites him to “curse God, and die.” Perhaps that is her way of maintaining integrity. Job replies with words that have changed my life, “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” Do we perceive God as present in all of life, both in blessing and in calamity?
God, help me bless someone who is in the midst of his or her chaos. Amen.
This month we read about Job, an upright man who faces severe trials but never loses his faith. Job’s story brings us face-to-face with the fact that living a godly life does not make us immune to suffering. Like Job, the psalmist wonders why he suffers, even though he lives according to God’s standards. Hebrews presents Jesus as the ultimate example of unwarranted suffering, yet because of his perseverance he is ultimately glorified. In Mark, some Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the law concerning divorce. Jesus makes strong statements about marriage, but his larger concern is that their hearts have become hard. He contrasts them with little children, who model faith by receiving God with an open heart.
• Read Job 1:1; 2:1-10. How do you live with integrity?
• Read Psalm 26. When have you turned to God, fully expecting divine intervention in a tough situation? What happened?
• Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. When has your reaction to God’s showing up in unexpected ways resulted in a face-plant?
• Read Mark 10:2-16. How questioning a person are you? When have your questions helped you move below the surface of an issue to see the supporting understanding?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.