Job 1:1–5; 2 Corinthians 1:8–14 (read online ⧉)
The story of Job is a famous story. It seems to be a story of a man going through unjust trials and misery. Job is often used in times of trial as a sort of encouragement, as if to say, if it could happen to Job, it can happen to you.
Job, depending on translation, was a person of complete integrity or blameless and upright. Either one is hard for us to measure up to. How many of us, truly, would think of ourselves as being of complete integrity?
During an interview, the question was asked of the interviewee, “are you honest?” The interviewee said, “yes.” The interviewer then asked, “have you ever lied or stolen?” The interviewee answered, “yes.” The interviewer then asked, “are you honest?” The interviewee again answered, “yes.”
The test was not whether the person was honest, per se. Rather, it was if they had the integrity to answer the “ever lied or stolen” question with a “yes.” If they had answered, “no” to that question, the interview would have been over, for no one (other than Jesus, and perhaps Job) was that good of a person.
When we read the story of Job, the story isn’t about Job’s “greatness” or “righteousness”. The story is about Job’s faithfulness to God. Despite all his troubles, he never gave up on God, even when his wife told him to.
While God is always faithful, we often are not. It is our faithfulness, though, that intimately affects our individual life. When Paul and Timothy were going through a period of affliction, Paul noted that they received comfort from God. Note the language that Paul used; overwhelmed beyond their own strength. By whose strength, then, could they succeed? God’s, of course.
Paul’s faithfulness to God was rewarded with the strength to carry on. Except, reward is not exactly correct. We all have this exact strength available to us, too. Through our trials and tribulations, through COVID-19 and riots, we have the strength to persevere.
However, many Christians do not believe they have that power. That is the work of the adversary. The adversary isn’t necessarily the Devil either. The world, in this instance, can be the adversary, too. As the world (all of Creation) languishes in the results of broken relationship (sin), it cannot understand how to overcome. It is lost in despair.
Christians often succumb to that despair. Instead of faithfulness to God, they attribute to themselves (and often to God) the faithlessness of broken relationships.
As a mother bird gathers her young in her wings, so you do for us, oh, God. May we trust the warmth and love of your wings, as they gather us together, and help us to trust that you are for us. Amen.
1) What are symptoms of despair that you see in the world? How about yourself?
2) What are ways that we can help others strengthen their hearts against despair?
3) How does despair affect things like hatred, discord, and the like?