THE GLOVES ARE OFF
Speak to me Lord, so that when I speak to others, my words will be an echo of your voice.
Read JOB 2
2 On another day the angels[a] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
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.
ReflectThink of someone who has supported you though a difficult time. What did they say or do to help?
Job’s faith had remained firm despite the loss of property and family, but what if his own health suffered? Satan is now given permission by God to inflict Job with a painful skin disease.
Artist and poet William Blake produced a book of illustrations of the story of Job; perhaps the most dramatic is ‘Satan smiting Job with sore boils’. Still, Job is initially willing to accept his lot without complaining: ‘Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ (v 10). When suffering comes some say, ‘Why me?’, but others say, ‘Why not me?’
I write this as the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold; in the UK, people are being told to stay in their own homes, hospital visiting is seriously limited. Much is being said and written about the strain of social distancing and the need to interact with others in times of stress. Fortunately, Job has three friends who come to spend time with him.
What do you say to someone struggling with sickness or bereavement? Perhaps, like me, having struggled to know what to say, you’ve been surprised to be told that you have been a great help. Sometimes those who suffer just need the presence of a friend. Job’s three friends begin well by sitting with him in silence for seven days (v 13).
Is there someone who would appreciate a visit or phone call?
Loving Lord, forgive me when I turn aside from others’ problems. Renew my compassion so that I will draw alongside those who are hurting and struggling.
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