Day 32

Thursday, March 25
Job 38-39

In the winter of 1999, many things were happening in my life. I was preparing for college graduation and excited for what lay before me. It was a bright time, even with the cold and snow of Ohio winter upon us. Jenn, my bride-to-be, had told me that she would marry me, and that winter glowed even brighter. Two weeks later, I found a lump on her neck. In short time, we found that she had cancer and that surgery was imminent.

The brightness didn’t dim or darken, per se, but it did feel like all had stopped moving. It was as though we had been observing snowfall from inside of a warm house, only to suddenly have someone push us outside into the cold. The shock stilled us, and it was as though she and I caught and held our breath for weeks.

We held one another afterward, too stunned to really speak, but even then I sensed that God would remain with us no matter what was to come. Although shaken, we were being assured of God’s presence and power. Even as we were hit by the unprecedented new reality that we were experiencing, we were being asked to trust in God. It wasn’t always easy.

Prior to this passage, Job had quite literally lost everything. His children, house, livestock, and more had been stripped from him in moments, and this man who had thought himself faithful to God and thus safe from this kind of harm was struggling. Job asserted that he was faithful, in the right, and able to question whether God knew what God was doing. Job was unsettled in a way he had never been before, and his trust in God was deeply shaken. He responded to God by angrily questioning whether faithfulness was even worthwhile if loss was all he earned from it.

The reply that God makes to Job is humbling beyond words. When Job asserts his own righteousness and rightness, Job is then definitively reminded of who God is. I can only imagine Job experiencing this, as I remember what it was like when I read this passage during a particularly low point of my own worry and anger. We were waiting for Jenn’s surgery, and from what I remember, I was correcting God, explaining why illness and fear like this shouldn’t be allowed to be a factor in our lives. That was when I came across Job 38-39.

The words knocked the wind out of me, just as they did to Job when he heard them. They offered no diminishment or dismissal of Job’s suffering or my own, but they certainly called into question any self-righteousness that I thought of as ground to stand on in my challenge to God. The newness we both experienced transformed and shook our lives, but it did not change the faithfulness and power of God.

I often re-read these words as a reminder of this.

Reflection by Rev. Adam Baker
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