AN ARROW OFF TARGET
Lord, you are the God of sunrise and sunset. Let this day be a sunrise. Drive away any darkness in my life.
Read JOB 11
11 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2 “Are all these words to go unanswered?
Is this talker to be vindicated?
3 Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?
Will no one rebuke you when you mock?
4 You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
and I am pure in your sight.’
5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
7 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.
10 “If he comes along and confines you in prison
and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
11 Surely he recognizes deceivers;
and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
12 But the witless can no more become wise
than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.[a]
13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
16 You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
17 Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
18 You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor.
20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
and escape will elude them;
their hope will become a dying gasp.”
- Job 11:12 Or wild donkey can be born tame
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘The love of God is broader than the measure of our mind / And the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind’ (FW Faber, 1814–1863). Though we feel up against it, we can trust the God who is love.
Imagine you are sitting in church. Zophar is the guest preacher. What do you think? ‘Pretty good sermon – God is great (vs 7–9); he is our judge (vs 10,11); we need to turn from our sin (v 14); God brings security and hope (v 18). Brilliant!’ Then, at coffee time, you learn all this truth is misplaced. Zophar is convinced he is preaching to a sinner who needs to be reminded just how guilty he is (vs 4–6). But God disagrees: Job is ’blameless,’ a God-fearer who ‘shuns evil’ (1:1; 2:3). What are we to make of that?
Zophar demonstrates our limited understanding of how God works. He assumes that a righteous person will not suffer like Job. He sees the problem and delivers his formula to solve it. But what if ‘God gives blessings of hope and security, but also allows unpredictable and seemingly unfair suffering’?* We must allow God to be God, not thinking we have all the ready-made answers. Being slow to come up with the answers, sitting silently with sufferers, and trusting the God whose mysteries we sometimes cannot fathom (v 7), needs to be our posture.
Henri Nouwen encourages us in listening to what people say without worrying about how we can answer.** Is that something you could start doing today?
Gracious Lord, I once heard empathy described as “your pain in my heart”. I need a big heart to enfold the hurts of others. Keep working on me Lord.
*Lindsay Wilson, Job: Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary, Eerdmans, 2015
**https://henrinouwen.org/now-then-henri-nouwen/ ‘Daily Meditation’, 26.06.20
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