WYLDE GREEN URC
Thoughts for the Week commencing 24th October 2021
This week’s thoughts are written by John Turney
Based on Job 42; 1-6 &10-17: Mark 10;46-52 and Psalm 34
Bible verses: Job 42; 1-6
Then Job answered the .
I know, , that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want.
You ask how I dare question your wisdom when I am so very ignorant.
I talked about things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know.
You told me to listen while you spoke and to try to answer your questions.
In the past I knew only what others had told me,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes.
The book of Job is a fascinating debate concerning sin and justice, suffering and restoration. It is also principally about faith, the consistency of the faith of one man through the most awful disasters and suffering. It is a story that is repeated every day of every year somewhere in the world. Most of us have probably had the experience of losing a good person, a friend, relative, loved one, who may have suffered dreadfully before death, about whom we may have said he or she was a good person; why does God allow it? I know of two people who told me that they lost their faith after their mothers died. We also say this about the many injustices that are inflicted upon minorities all over the world. Why does God allow it? This is perhaps one of the hardest questions that ministers and priests have to answer.
The book of Job does not provide the answers; these are to be found in the New Testament with the sacrifice of God’s son. Job loses almost everything and yet hangs on to his faith in God. His so-called ‘friends’ try to comfort him. This is where the phrase ‘Job’s Comforters’ comes from. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar say respectively that everyone has to suffer at some time; that God punishes only the wicked and that Job must have sinned in his past and should now renounce his sins. Job is a thoroughly good man and at the worst of his troubles only wants to die.
The passage above, together with God’s response, is the climax of the whole book. Job has suffered dreadfully because of a debate between Satan and God in which Satan challenges God to agree that Job is a good, God-fearing and faithful man only because of what he can get out of such behaviour. God allows Satan to test Job to the extreme limits of Job’s endurance to show that Satan is wrong. Job was a wealthy man. He had a lovely family and enjoyed good health. This was all suddenly stripped from him yet Job remained faithful to God, not blaming him, not turning from him. His ‘friends’ or ‘comforters’ argue with him but falsely. Job continues to maintain that God is just and righteous but he stands up to God by asking why has he suffered; why has he, a truly good man, been made to suffer as an evildoer. Job learns eventually that real life is not one of consequences of good or bad behaviour, where good is rewarded and evil is punished. Always there have been unjustified disasters, meaningless suffering and life’s contradictions. True faith in God may be sorely tested but it does not waver. Job’s faith has been deepened by his suffering. This, plus our New Testament knowledge of God’s sacrifice of his only son and his subsequent resurrection, must help our own feeble faiths to deepen and strengthen.
Prayer for today: May God give us the grace and the wisdom to understand and learn from Job’s experiences Amen
Bible verses Job 46; 10-17
Then, after Job had prayed for his three friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had had before. 11 All Job's brothers and sisters and former friends came to visit him and feasted with him in his house. They expressed their sympathy and comforted him for all the troubles the Lord had brought on him. Each of them gave him some money and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the last part of Job's life even more than he had blessed the first. Job owned fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, two thousand head of cattle, and one thousand donkeys. 13 He was the father of seven sons and three daughters. 14 He called the oldest daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the youngest Keren Happuch.
15 There were no other women in the whole world as beautiful as Job's daughters. Their father gave them a share of the inheritance along with their brothers.
16 Job lived a hundred and forty years after this, long enough to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 17 And then he died at a very great age.
Job has accepted his suffering and prays for his three friends and effectively forgives them, God has proved Satan wrong and now restores Job to health and wealth and family happiness. His friends and relations rejoice on his behalf and give him presents. When Job first lost everything, he tore his clothes, shaved his head and grovelled with grief and said “I was born with nothing and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!” Thus in spite of losing everything Job did not blame God. It is perhaps a little ironic that at the end when he has acknowledged his faults, made peace with his friends and his faith in God is even deeper and stronger, that God rewards him with twice as much wealth, family and happiness than he had before.
So for us, Job’s experience can help us not to abandon God when bad things happen in the world or to us directly. This leads us to a greater understanding of the importance of God’s sacrifice of his only son and to why we should hold on to our faith in God and Jesus Christ come what may.
Prayer for today: Dear Lord, may the example of Job help us to understand more deeply our faith in you and our Saviour Jesus. Amen
Bible verses: Mark 10; 46-52
They came to Jericho, and as Jesus was leaving with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
Many of the people scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up!” they said. “Get up, he is calling you.”
So he threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
“Teacher,” the blind man answered, “I want to see again.”
“Go,” Jesus told him, “your faith has made you well.”
At once he was able to see and followed Jesus on the road.
Like Job, the blind man has the faith to carry on and pursue his faith when others are telling him to shut up. Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus of Nazareth and already believed in him. This is extra-ordinary for he had not seen any miracles of healing (how could he?); he had probably not heard Jesus preach and it was a miracle to him that here was Jesus, passing by. The ordinary reaction might have been ‘Oh, Jesus is too far away and he is surrounded by masses of his followers and would he even notice poor disabled me. My voice is too weak’ But that reaction would have merited the response ‘Oh ye of little faith’. Bartimaeus had a strong faith, one that led him to ignore those trying to still him and he tried even harder to attract Jesus’ attention. Whether Jesus actually heard him in the hubbub of that moment, we shall never know, but we can be sure that Jesus knew he was there. He called to Bartimaeus who came into the crowd to meet him. Although Jesus asks him what he wants, we can be certain that he already knew. But the blind man only had to ask and he was immediately healed. Thus he began to follow Jesus along the road, no doubt singing his praises and being and ardent testifier to the goodness of God and his son Jesus Christ.
Mark is a notoriously laconic and ‘to the point’ gospel writer. Therefore we do not get any of the emotion of the occasion from his writings. But the crowd knew the importance of this healing and praised God loudly along with Bartimaeus (see Luke 18v43)
Prayer for today: ‘Faith can move mountains’. Help us O Lord at least to have the faith of those whose examples we have read this week. With your help we know that we too can achieve miracles. Amen
Bible verses: Psalm 34
In Praise of God's Goodness
1 I will always thank the Lord; I will never stop praising him.
2 I will praise him for what he has done; may all who are oppressed listen and be glad!
3 Proclaim with me the Lord's greatness; let us praise his name together!
4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me; he freed me from all my fears.
5 The oppressed look to him and are glad; they will never be disappointed.
6 The helpless call to him, and he answers; he saves them from all their troubles.
7 His angel guards those who honour the Lord and rescues them from danger.
8 Find out for yourself how good the Lord is. Happy are those who find safety with him.
19 Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all;
the Lord preserves them completely; not one of their bones is broken.
21 Evil will kill the wicked; those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 The Lord will save his people; those who go to him for protection will be spared
The lectionary readings are well chosen in that usually the quoted psalm makes a fitting conclusion to the subjects presented in the other readings. So it is this week. Those such as Job and Bartimaeus who have experienced God’s goodness would most certainly raise their voices in singing David’s psalm. So we have a few examples of those with a strong faith winning the support of God and Jesus.
David himself had just been rejected (sent away?) by Abimelech, the king of Gath because David pretended to be mad. David is voicing his thanks to God with a song of praise and an invitation for all who may be oppressed or helpless or otherwise victimised, to join in. Even good people may suffer many troubles, he says, but the Lord saves them from all of them.
Have faith is the message of all these examples and belief in the Lord and the Trinity and God will protect you. As Job found, this may not be instantly but consistency and firmness of faith, is a message that applies to all of us today as much as ever it did through the ages from nearly 3000 years ago. Meanwhile ‘Praise the Lord’!
Prayer for today Praise ye the Lord
Praise God in his sanctuary
Praise him in the firmament of his power
Psalm 150 (KJV) read or sing all