The psalmist’s testimony (Psalm 104) demonstrates a humble recognition of God’s boundless love and power. Joel offers a historical example of calamity when we try to seize power and fail to love God without reservation. The story of Job illustrates that life is not so simple as “love God, everything is good; sin against God, all is lost.” We come to the end of the story, after Job has been tested by the Adversary and then endured a series of “consolations” and accusations by his friends. They were stuck on the retributive model of sin and righteousness mentioned above.
In a series of “If I had . . . ” statements, Job agrees that, if true, these claims would be proof of sin. But he hasn’t done those things; and because of his innocent suffering, Job demands justice from God. (Be careful what you wish for!) What he receives instead probably feels like a pointed put-down to his demand.
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” God, speaking with great power (from a whirlwind), asks a series of questions that Job is too humbled to answer directly. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” “Do you know the measurement of the universe?” [Obviously not.] God reminds Job that humans do not possess full divine power and knowledge. We have limits, and it’s good to remember them.
Does this mean that God doesn’t care what happens to us? No, the Psalms are full of complaints and pleas just like Job’s. God wants justice and reconciliation for all of creation. So what does it mean? Perhaps that as a people called to be holy, we realize that these lofty goals set by God are not something we can create for ourselves, sustain for ourselves, or know fully ourselves. We need God’s light and counsel.
Loving God, hear my cries and complaints, and enable me to see the justice and reconciliation possible within your power and love. Amen.
At this point in Job’s story, God has heard questions from Job and long-winded moralizing by three of Job’s friends, who have pronounced that his misfortunes are divine judgment. Now God has heard enough and declares that God’s perspective is superior to theirs. God has been there from the beginning, as the psalmist reiterates, so no one should claim to know God’s mind or speak on God’s behalf. Even Jesus, the divine Son of God, yields to his heavenly Father. Hebrews tells us that Jesus made appeals to God as the ultimate high priest and thereby became the source of salvation for those who obey him. In the Gospel reading, Jesus specifies that his approaching act of submission and service will allow him to become a ransom for us.
Read Job 38:1-7, 34-41. How do you continue to hold on to belief in God’s goodness when you are in a period of anguish?
Read Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c. How do you share in the creativity of God?
Read Hebrews 5:1-10. In what ways does the understanding of Jesus’ willing vulnerability while serving as high priest affect the way you interact with others?
Read Mark 10:35-45. Where do you see genuine examples of servant leadership in your community?
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.