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Thursday, May 19, 2011

lessons from Job

So I don't post a lot about what I'm learning in VLI because most of the time I'm simply overwhelmed at the amount of information I'm supposed to be cramming into my head about books of the Bible, how to do church, and the theology of the Vineyard. But this past quarter, in our study of the Writings (Job, Ecclesiastics, Psalms, Proverbs in these first 4 weeks) I've learned again why I like the book of Job and wanted to share a few of the things I just had write in an essay. I must give my instructors Don Williams and Steve Robbins the credit for good material.

If you don't know about the book of Job, here it is in a nutshell. Job is a blessed man who lives right with God. Satan challenges Job's integrity, saying that Job loves God because of all the good things he has and that God protects him. So God removes this protection and allows Satan to take his money, children, and his physical health. He wants to tempt him to curse God. Most of the book you read about the conversations Job has with his friends who are trying to get him to "confess his wrongs" so all this bad stuff will stop happening to him. Then God addresses them and opens with these words "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me." Job doesn't really ever get the real answer he was looking for though. But at the end of the book Job is restored in his wealth and went on to have 7 sons and 3 daughters and lived to be 140.

Whew, long nutshell.

This book has hit all to close to home lately. I've questioned God a lot about the place we've been in lately. So here are some lessons we can all learn from this book:
  • We learn how to face suffering. We need to see suffering in the context of the battle between God and Satan and God’s reign usurped by the evil one.  We need to trust divine sovereignty and admit that evil is a mystery.
  • In the midst of suffering and loss, we often lose perspective and look for simple cause/effect answers.  The real answer is to simply trust God.  Before God we are all humbled and broken. Our being is only possible because of his BEING.
  • Even though we don't know all the God and Satan are doing, God can encounter us and turn things around by his presence.  Job doesn't get all his questions answer, but he does get a new, refined relationship with God. 
  • When we counsel people, we shouldn't give cheap, quick answers.  We should listen first and hear their pain.  Then pray for God's kingdom to come.
  • We should be slow to give theological explanations and even slower to defend God's goodness in view of the existence of evil. Instead we should point to the cross and the Savior who stands with us in our pain.  And we should always point to Jesus, who heals this pain.
  • "In the end Satan is silenced.  And the astute theologians, Job's friends are silenced.  And Job is silenced.  But God is not." (NIV intro to Job)

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