God, Your wisdom is so deep, Your power is so immense. I pray that weakness will display Your strength.
Read Job 9:1-35
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Even in the midst of suffering there is a God who is with us and for us, and will never let us go” (Frederick Buechner). It is important to remember this truth.
The experience of being in a dark tunnel with no sign of any light at the end is common to many of us–and very distressing. I spent several years in Peru during the 1980s, a time when Shining Path terrorists were creating dark tunnels for many; this, on top of a history of poverty and oppression. Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, writing from his experience of the suffering of the innocent, points out that the theme of Job “is not precisely suffering … but rather how to speak of God in the midst of suffering.”
Job has poured out his heart to God (Job 7), and a second friend, Bildad, brutally describes his prayer as mere wind (8:2). Bildad’s main emphasis is that God is just (8:1-7); he defends this by reference to tradition (8:8-10) and nature (8:11-19). His view is somewhat blinkered; he allows for no exceptions to the rule that the righteous are blessed and the wicked are punished. Today’s reading is Job’s response: “Yes, but…” That may be true (2), but believing in his own innocence (21) how can he contend with the One who created the universe (2-9) and who is all-powerful and so much stronger (10-12)? There seems no way out; whatever Job says, whatever approach he makes to God, he will be the loser. A dark tunnel indeed!
What can we say about God when so much seems dark and hopeless? Can we keep quiet rather than uttering inappropriate glib words? Does our corporate worship include lament, or do we stick safely to jubilant praise, thus alienating people caught up in despair? Can we be honest and admit that sometimes we have a problem regarding how to speak of God? Could we perhaps encourage our songwriters to probe the painful realities as well as the joyful ones?
Try writing a lament yourself, for use in corporate worship.
Loving Father, I am reminded that You are God and I am not. I am encouraged to know that You take my despair and turn it into joy.