Faith in Difficult Times

Sunday’s Scripture –November 10, 2019

Job 19:23-27

Reflection

The scripture for this lesson comes from the book of Job. Job is a beautiful and complicated work. Christians, scholars, and Christian scholars disagree on just what this book really is. Some say it’s an ancient Jewish fable with a long poem stuck in the middle, which was added by a more recent poet. Others say it’s an historical account of actual events. Some say it’s a parable, much like the stories Jesus used as teaching tools. Historic fact or Hebrew fable, the Holy Spirit led faithful church leaders of the past to include the book of Job in the Holy Bible, so it must have some value for us.

The book of Job, however, is much more story-like than the other wisdom books. Similarly, it’s much less history-oriented than the historical writings.

The book of Job tells the story of a man named Job to whom every imaginable bad thing happens. If anybody ever had a right to lose hope, it was Job. Completely faithful to God, Job doesn’t understand why so many bad things are happening to him, but he never loses faith in God or stops practicing his faith.

As the story unfolds, three friends try to help Job. What they say to him, and his responses to them, make up the vast majority of the book.

How often have you heard someone say, “She’s got the patience of Job”? Like some other old sayings, this one doesn’t make sense. While Job was incredibly faithful, he wasn’t particularly patient. His most prominent characteristic, though, was his perseverance. (But “She’s got the perseverance of Job” just doesn’t sound as good, does it?)

Hope, perseverance, or practicing our faith in difficult times isn’t automatic or easy. It can be blocked by how difficult something is to achieve, by random circumstances that complicate things, and by the choices we make.

The good news is that God can, and often does, take our bad experiences and use them for good by teaching us something or somehow strengthening us through them. This does not mean God causes bad things to happen in order to teach or strengthen us, just that bad stuff happens and God sometimes uses it for good in the long run.

Read these words from R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts.

When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (Hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (Hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much

Of this life, well hang on

 

Questions

  • What images came to mind as you read the lyrics to this song?
  • How might this song help someone who is feeling despair during a difficult time?
  • Does this passage give hope, or show how to start moving forward?
  • Can you relate to the words of the passage? How?
  • How have you persevered in difficult times?

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