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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, October 1, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Job 1:1, 2:1–10

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?
There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (NRSV)

Anyone who dares to open the book of Job might want to slam it shut. Because it is infused with so many questions, it may not be worth the time it takes to unpack it. Such questions as, How does a good God let a good man become a pawn of Satan? Do you really blame his wife for her response to Job’s body being covered with sores? Yes, Job’s response to her was incredibly sexist, but it also came from the lips of one who trusted God with an unbelievable faith.

This is just the beginning, the very beginning of a very difficult story, and one response is to, indeed, slam the book shut. But there is something remarkably instructive about the book of Job as well, because the very first verse locates the story with a specific person—Job—who was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

I’ve known a “Job” in every setting of ministry in which I’ve been involved. There are the faithful, righteous, “steady hands at the faith” kind of people. I think we’ve all known them. And when things go badly for these people—when the child drowns in the pool, or they are diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or they lose their job, our hearts break. We wonder why them and not us? And we circle back to Job, because the book of Job cracks open the human heart. There is something quite stunning about knowing that there is no territory that God does not engage.

I don’t know why rain falls on the good and the evil. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I am not one with much patience for quick, simple explanations, theological or logical. But what I do know is that I have often been rendered silent by the faith and trust in God that the Jobs I’ve known have lived. And for that I am in awe.

O Holy Jesus, thank you for the communion of saints that we live among, for their strength, for their unwavering trust, in you. Yes, in you. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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