A college student once told me that he had undergone a certain rite of passage. “Now that I’m old enough, my mom is sharing all the family secrets with me,” he said with a chuckle.
Biblical texts about violence or extreme suffering are usually omitted from children’s Bibles and Sunday school lessons—and for good reason. Yet I often find that adults, who are old enough to discover all the “secrets” of the Bible, do not want to read difficult texts such as Job. Perhaps the book strikes too close to home. Perhaps we who have already experienced suffering, don’t want to hear any more about it.
This week, think of Job in a different way. The book tackles tough questions that you will face at some point in your life, if you haven’t already. Why not engage the questions that you are already asking, such as: Is there any purpose in suffering? Is God actually present in the midst of my toughest challenges? Who is in charge around here?
Take on this week’s readings with the perspective of the young college student. Pretend you are waking up to the realities of adult life: the overwhelming joys, the deep sorrows, the bitter disappointments. In many of this week’s readings, you may not encounter the type of inspiring verse that you would see posted on the wall in a Sunday school class or illustrated in a children’s Bible. But you will come face-to-face with a God who will not leave you, even in the starkest examples of human suffering. You will come face-to-face with a God who desires a covenant relationship with you and hopes that you desire that covenant too.
Faithful God, I know that you will be with me this week. Be with me in my reading, in my prayer, and in my relationships with others. Be with me especially when I feel far from you. Amen.
This week 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. What helps you to live with integrity?
Read Psalm 26. Do you feel free in your prayer life to honestly share with God all that you are feeling?
Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. In what ways does God speak to us in our day?
Read Mark 10:2-16. What qualities found in children do you try to cultivate in your spiritual life?
Respond by posting a prayer.