At times life seems to be floating along with little trouble and we get lulled into complacency. We listen to the news and know that there are troubles swirling around us, but somehow they really do not affect our day-to-day routines.
And there are those times when we are hassled by a runny nose or lack of sleep. Maybe we get a craving for our favorite comfort food but discover we do not have any in the cabinets. These are irritations that come and go without making a permanent scar in our lives.
Yet Monday was a true Monday, filled with irritations, major worries of family and friends. The chore list was long, and the wellbeing of very important people in my lives were teetering on the skills of medical professionals. Why even our aged dog was fighting for pain management.
Monday became a challenge for me. I packed so much into it that I became exhausted and I was just on the peripheral of the real issues. I began thinking about Job.
Job was overwhelmed with challenges and yet he did not lose or, maybe I should say, he did not let go of his faith in God. I think my study of Job this past month probably helped me deal with all the hassles of my Monday.
I cannot imagine what it must have been to lose one’s children, all one’s wealth, and even one’s spouse. Job lost everything that designated his status in his community. Then on top of that, his own health deteriorated.
In Job’s ancient culture, the ramifications of all these attacks were deemed just that—attacks from God due to his lack of faith or his sins. Even his closest friends could not see Job’s innocence. The only mindset they had for that type of loss of family and wealth was it had to be God’s punishment. Job had to have sinned. There was simply no other reason for him to be destroyed like he was.
As I studied the book of Job from the 21stcentury viewpoint in which I live, I struggled to understand how the friends could turn on Job. They knew him. They were his best friends.
My thought was that in today’s society, friends would not berate a friend like that. And then I hesitated.
Maybe friends today would question why someone was losing everything even when they were sure they knew that friend so well. Maybe friends today might think it was punishment, too. Maybe they would argue with the friend that there had to be a reason for such difficulties.
Using the study notes of the Wesley Study Bible, I found a deeper understanding that the context of the story does indeed make a difference in understanding ancient literature.
The context: In the ancient culture, when bad things happened to good people it was believed to be punishment. The punishment could be for sins or for lack of faith.
Job’s friends had no other frame of reference and certainly were not privy to a global analysis of religions and other historical references as we have available today. The friends were reacting to something that they were witnessing and could not fathom any other reason for such destruction.
Jump back to the 21stcentury. In my own history I can now see how others can “pre-judge” the cause and effect of one’s negative experiences even though a friend is believed to be living a solid Christian life. I have heard it asked before: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
My own mother was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and could not beat it. Even her pastor wanted to know why God was allowing her to suffer with the cancer. Mom’s answer, “Why not me?”
Bad things happen. Natural disasters, like this year’s Mid-western floods, hurricanes, cyclones, etc. happen. Disease attacks. Other’s mistakes—or sins—interfere with own lives.
Bad things happen.
And that is why it is even more important to maintain one’s faith in God.
God created this world and it really is a mystery as to how it all developed originally. Even when science can explain so much of how things evolve, it does not answer—to my understanding—exactly how it all began.
I continue to believe in God as a creator, an omnipresence in my life.
I continue to believe that he took on the human form as the man Jesus Christ in an effort to make us understand that there is such a simple way to live: Love one another.
I continue to believe that the human form of Jesus Christ was indeed crucified on a cross by humans who did not understand, and that he arose from the dead to join God in some form of eternal life that continues to be a mystery to us in our human form.
Certainly bad things happen, but the promise of eternal life, to knowing what the mystery really is, to be in the presence of God and Jesus Christ and a host/cloud of witnesses gives me hope.
With faith in God and knowing that he is with me in the form of the Holy Spirit, I believe that we can manage all that challenges us in this human life we experience.
Therefore, when a Monday hits and it seems so overwhelming I just want to hide, I remember Job and his determination to remain faithful. My Monday may have had its challenges, but they are nothing that I cannot handle because I know God is with me.
How I hope that my life, my faith, my example can provide testimony of living with God as my partner.
My guiding scripture is Philippians 4:13:
I can do all things through him [God] who strengthens me.
My personal mantra: Love God. Love life. Love one another.
My breath prayer (please join me): Dear God, May my words be your words. –Amen