Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

22 May 2009

Joy in Job

Yesterday I got up to Job* in my Bible reading plan. In many respects this is a heavy going book of the Bible.

At the very beginning Job is described as, "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." God allows Satan to test Job's righteousness. And so Job loses all his vast livestock and his servants, his ten children are killed and he is covered from head to toe in painful sores. That is, Job loses his livelihood, the trappings of his wealth, his family and his health - all things we may be tempted to place our security in, rather than in God. That's just the first two chapters!!

But the rub for me is in the following 35 chapters. Job has three friends who come along and try to comfort and help him. This long section of the book records the conversation between the four of them. There is double edged sword for me in these 35 chapters. At one level (from hazy memory - and I may need to retract the next phrase in a week's time when I have finished reading Job) there is a certain degree of whinging - and if you have read other parts of this blog, you will know the extent of my patience with whinging. And then there is the discomfort of having to read what the three friends had to say in trying to comfort Job - words that were not at all comforting or helpful - and wondering if I have spoken similarly unhelpful words that were of no comfort to friends in need. Wondering that must necessarily lead to apology and repentance.

I almost thought of skipping over Job this time around because I didn't think I was up to it. But Job is the Word of God. So I prayed hard before commencing my reading of this section of God's Word that I would learn from it. And how grateful I am that God gave me good courage to read on and not put Job aside for another time - because look what I found only four verses in...

His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of fasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, 'Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' This was Job's regular custom.

Oh, that in our family we would have this level of concern for the spiritual welfare of our children. And oh, that our boys would grow up blessed by the fruit of our concern, prayer and actions on behalf of their spiritual welfare, just as Job's children clearly did. This is a breathtaking testimony of what it is to be a godly parent.

If the rest of my time in Job is difficult, it will not matter for I have been given a precious reminder and rich encouragement to focus on the one thing that is most important for our two boys - that they be brought up to be blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil.

Thankyou heavenly Father for the book of Job.

* The word "Job" rhymes with "robe."

2 comments:

Sharon said...

I like the way Job's children clearly still cared about each other and were close even after the brothers had grown up and moved out of home. I wish my nearest brother weren't in Kalgoorlie.

But I always found that section a bit intimidating. Don't you think that the young men and women might have felt Job was being a bit pushy? It seemed to me that he appears domineering. He is definitely taking charge of their religious observances, despite the sons at least clearly having their own homes.

And I wonder if they grew up thinking, "Dad will take care of the religious side of things, we can just party and not worry about it at all because he has it covered." Kind of like people who think, "I come from a (XYZ denomination) background so I am a Christian," even if they have no idea what the title Christ actually means?

I can see your point in what you learnt from reading this passage. I guess I wonder if I am not more likely to fall into the "do it for my child" category and then in fifteen or twenty years time I will realise, "oh no, they actually never had any faith of their own, did they?"

My husband preached on Jesus' parable of the four soils last night. It has probably influenced my response to your post here. Can you tell? I have been thinking a fair bit about how I can help my children to let the gospel sink deep down in their hearts and be firmly established, so that it bears real fruit in their lives.

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

Hi Sharon,

Well, that is an interesting comment!! I guess I read this passage with the mindset that even though our children will one day leave our home to make homes of their own, we will still continue to pray for them and be concerned for their welfare - especially their spiritual welfare. And I am assuming that you agree with that completely.

Certainly I know of one couple who still pray on a daily basis for their adult children - and they use the same "parents' prayer programme" that we use with our young children! (The prayer points listed ARE very good - and are great points to pray for all Christians.) But I love the example of the above mentioned couple because one of their grown children is in solid full time ministry with is wife. It is such a humbling witness.

I did read one commentary before I posted this and it certainly put Job in the best light - as I took him - in regard to his children. His children are clearly well grounded in their righteousness themselves, if his main concern for them is for their thought life, even in the context of feasting. And his customs of sacrificing on behalf of his children come out of his deep desire to see them as blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil.

BUT...you have read these verses very closely and carefully. And I guess the sticking point may be the phrase "Job would send" in the verse, "Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them," and at that point what you say may well be valid.

Mmmmm....shall have to think about that. Thank you so much for taking the time to share - very thought provoking, which is always good.