Coping with chaos and death: the ‘wisdom’ of Job (Pentecost 22B)

A sermon preached by the Rev. Elizabeth Raine at Tuggeranong Uniting Church on Sunday 24 October 2021.

*****

Last time we were with Job, he and his three friends had reached an impasse. Job believed them to see blindly and listen deafly. They, on the other hand, cannot understand Job’s stubbornness. Enter the fourth friend, Elihu.

Elihu, whose name means ‘My God is He’, and whose nose is burning in anger in regard to the conversation to date, strongly condemns the approach taken by the three friends and argues that Job is misrepresenting God’s justice and discrediting God’s character. In his speech, Elihu describes God as mighty, yet just, and quick to warn but also quick to forgive. Elihu is almost cast into a prophetic role, and prepares the way for the appearance of God, who finally shows up.

God has arrived in a whirlwind, and to compensate for his long silence of 35 chapters he now responds to Job with a flood of rather sarcastic questions. There is a touch of irony here in God’s chosen vehicle – in 9:17 Job had said If I summoned him and he answered me, I do not believe he would listen to my voice, for he tramples me down with a whirlwind, enlarges my wounds for no reason and will not let me get my breath.

God appears to do just this, his intent apparently being to adjust Job’s attitude by telling him a few things, including some pretty prolonged boasting about his cosmic power, culminating in the description of the monstrous Leviathan and Behemoth. By this God therefore puts cosmic matters – including Job’s smallness and frailness when compared to these two monstrous creations – into their true perspective.

Twice he reminds Job to gird your loins like a real man. I will ask questions, and you instruct me (38:2; 40:7).

To “gird the loins” is usually used as a metaphor for preparing for battle. It is hard to conceive that the unfortunate Job, who has just been told he “darkens counsel” with “ignorant” words, who has a whirlwind of cosmic proportions roaring around him, is in any position to instruct the deity or do battle with him. The deck is stacked, and this is a contest that we know God must win.

The response God gives Job is not the expected one. God’s words are not what the friends have imagined that God would say, nor are they the vindication that Job had hoped for. God has reversed the scenario that Job had earlier envisaged. Instead of Job challenging God in court about the justice of God’s actions, God counters with his own case, asking Job to reveal his wisdom. Instead of the divine actions being interpreted by a powerless human, they are now presented from God’s point of view.

The speech of God to Job is the climax of the book but it offers no explanation for Job’s suffering. The question: where was Job when God created the world? is an unsatisfactory ‘answer’, and we are left with the uncomfortable possibility that God acts in capricious ways, an unsympathetic deity who would allow the life of a man, his family and his servants and animals to be tormented or cut short for no better reason than to prove a point to the Adversary.

The meaning and significance of this divine speech of God continues to be a widely debated issue. Some interpret God’s words as a negation of a human being’s right to question God. Others see them as a correction to Job’s limited understanding of good and evil. Still others believe this scene shows Job’s faith and humility. Yet others believe that the words of God avoid Job’s questions, suggesting that there is doubt cast over God’s justice and compassion.

To answer God’s somewhat sarcastic questions would require the knowledge of a god, not a human. Job’s limitations are exposed, and the workings of God are declared to be a mystery beyond Job’s understanding. Instead of being offered comfort, Job is reminded of his ignorance and frailty. What are we to make of this disconcerting picture of God, especially since the questions Job asks may also be our own?

The speeches of God to Job illustrate the world according to Hebrew cosmology. The world is seemingly ordered, and everything has its place. The sea has its limits, cosmic darkness is behind gates, the sky has statutes and the clouds are numbered. But there are disorderly elements as well. The wild beasts have both hunter and prey among their numbers, yet God provides for both, giving to one the freedom to eat and another to be eaten.

In his ignorance, Job has imagined a black and white world where evil and good, reward and punishment are clearly defined. Hence his insistence that he be shown justice. But here he is presented with a world of moral ambiguity, where the wild ass is just as likely or not to be eaten by the lion in search of food.

The world as God has created it is presented as full opposing forces such as life and death, chaos and order, freedom and control, wisdom and foolishness, ordinary and bizarre, evil and good, and Job’s assumption that in a just universe his piety should have been rewarded with prosperity, is rendered meaningless. The world is not ordered according to guilt or innocence so there is no easy answer to the problem of innocent suffering.

Creatures die so others may survive. Chaos and death are not eliminated by God but operate within the boundaries of his design and the world’s complexity means it is not possible for a simple and mechanical law of reward and punishment to operate. The various aspects of human morality that Job and his friends have discussed at length are not the way the universe works. God presents a universe which is independent of such human belief systems. As Job’s beliefs fall about him in ruins, he is faced with a deity whose ways are outside of human comprehension and wisdom.

The book of Job began with deprivation and tragedy. In the final verses though, we find abundant restoration, with Job receiving back his house and family and twice as much as he had lost. Job wisely acknowledges the supreme power of God, his own ignorance, and renounces his dust and ashes.

Note that Job does not repent in sackcloth and ashes but repents of them. This suggests that he is still a touch defiant, but he has learnt he is not the centre of the universe and it is now time to resume normal life again in the verses that follow. And with a final touch of irony, the friends who wanted Job to plead for God’s mercy for himself now find themselves in need of Job’s intercessions on their behalf.

It seems a happy ending, but despite its complex setting and arguments, the book of Job has presented us with more problems than solutions. Curiously, verse 42:10 states that restoration is made to Job because he prayed for his friends, not because he repents. Even more surprisingly, Job’s friends and relatives then console him about the evil that God had brought upon him, a statement that lays the blame for Job’s suffering directly with God, and not the Adversary. They offer gold and silver as a token of their goodwill. The implication is that God does cause innocent suffering, as part of the cosmic design.

So where do we go from here? Do we dwell on a dangerous universe where God doesn’t answer the questions of Job and where justice seems questionable? Or is there another way forward in this rather dark story?

Professor Kathryn Schifferdecker[1], in her commentary on Job on Working Preacher, notes the details of this restoration have some unusual features. She states that

Job’s three daughters are the most beautiful women in the land, and Job gives them an inheritance along with their brothers, an unheard-of act in the ancient Near East. He also gives them unusually sensual names: Dove (Jemimah), Cinnamon (Keziah) and Rouge-Pot (Keren-happuch).

Schifferdecker believes that Job has “learned to govern his world as God does.” What does she mean by that?

The cautious father of the prologue who offered sacrifices for his children in case they had sinned now has become a parent modelled on God’s own creation. By giving them their inheritance, he is giving his children the same freedom to live and grow and learn that God gives God’s creation, and, like God, he delights in their freedom and in their beauty.4

Ellen Davis, in her book Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament[2] writes, “The great question that God’s speech out of the whirlwind poses for Job and every other person of integrity is this: Can you love what you do not control?”

It is a question, says Schifferdecker, that is worth pondering. “Can you love what you do not control: this wild and beautiful creation, its wild and beautiful Creator, your own children?” she asks? [3]

Davis also puts forward the case that we should not be concentrating on why or how much it costs God to restore Job’s fortunes, as it obviously costs God nothing. “The real question is how much it costs Job to become a father again.”[4]

I really like this perspective. Job, says Schifferdecker, resembles a Holocaust survivor whose greatest act of courage may have been to start again and bear children. Yet despite the potential risks, Job chooses to enter life again. Job and his wife, despite their terrible experiences, choose to again “bring children into a world full of heart-rending beauty and heart-breaking pain. Job chooses to love again, even when he knows the cost of such love”. (Schifferdecker, 2012)[5].

Having cited so much of her, I am going to give the last words to Professor Schifferdecker, as I think she sums it up beautifully:

Living again after unspeakable pain is a kind of resurrection. The book of Job does not espouse an explicit belief in resurrection. Nevertheless, the trajectory of the whole book participates in that profound biblical movement from death to life. It is not surprising, therefore, that the translators of the Septuagint add this verse to the book of Job: “And Job died, old and full of days. And it is written that he will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up.”

And perhaps that is an appropriate place to leave this story of Job, waiting with God’s other servants for the world to come. This complex work, the book of Job, plumbs the depths of despair and comes out on the other side into life again. In this movement, it testifies not only to the reality of inexplicable suffering but also to the possibility of new life — life lived out in relationship with the God of Israel, the God of resurrection, who, as both synagogue and church proclaim, is faithful even until death, and beyond. [6]

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See other sermons in the series at

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/02/living-through-lifes-problems-job-1-pentecost-19b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/10/hope-in-a-broken-world-job-23-pentecost-20b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/17/celebrating-creation-job-38-and-psalm-104-pentecost-21b/

and also

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/20/job-a-tale-for-the-pandemic-part-one-pentecost-19b-to-22b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/20/job-a-tale-for-the-pandemic-part-two-pentecost-19b-to-22b/


[1] Schifferdecker, K. Commentary on Job 42:1-6, 10-17, Working Preacher, 2012 (Accessed 20/10/2021 https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/ordinary-30-2/commentary-on-job-421-6-10-17 )

[2] Davis, E.F. “The Sufferer’s Wisdom,” Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament (Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 2001), 121-143.

[3] Schifferdecker, K. Commentary on Job 42:1-6, 10-17 ,Working Preacher, 2012

[4] Davis, E.F. (2001) 121-143

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

Job: a tale for the pandemic, Part Two (Pentecost 19B to 22B)

The book of Job is a challenging and disturbing book. It takes us to a central dilemma that we all face in our lives. It provides us with a stimulus to undertake an exploration that is eminently suited to the time that we have been experiencing over the past few months in lockdown—indeed, since early in 2020. The book poses the question: why is this happening?

See https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/20/job-a-tale-for-the-pandemic-part-one-pentecost-19b-to-22b/

That’s a question many are asking about the pandemic. Why has it come upon us? Or, to be more theological about it: why are innocent people suffering? why are we caught in this current spiral? do those without a moral compass appear to prosper? why do those who seek to do good find themselves beset by problem after problem?

The question is acute for us each personally, during this time of restrictions because of a global pandemic. After all, we had nothing to do with the cause of the pandemic. Why should we suffer the frustrations of lockdowns, if we are innocent of causing the virus to spread? Why should we endure the hardships of reduced interpersonal interactions, if we have been behaving with due care? Why should we not be able to gather for worship, since we have not been in places where infections have been found?

The question is also pertinent and pressing in our current global context. For a start, the pandemic has inflicted suffering and death on millions of people around the world—suffering far more invasive than what we are experiencing in the current lockdown. How many millions of people have died? And how many millions of family members have suffered the grief and despair of not being able to say farewell to their loved ones as they die in hospital wards? And how many medical and nursing professionals have been stressed beyond limit by the incessant demands they have faced during the pandemic? And how fair is all of this?

The question also presses in terms of the climate. We have long known that the climate is changing, the high temperature averages are claiming, the arctic glaciers are melting, the sea levels are rising, the intensity and frequency of catastrophic weather events are climbing—and people around the globe are suffering. All of this presents a challenge to the way we live. We may even think that we are suffering unfairly in such a scenario.

It is clear that the science has come to a conclusive decision: we human beings have been contributing in a major way to the changes in the climate for over two centuries, now. We actually can’t lament that we are suffering unfairly, since our comfortable lifestyles in the well-to-do Western world undoubtedly mean that our carbon footprints are much larger than they should be. We are contributing to climate change, so can’t expect to be exempt from its ravages.

But what of those whose carbon footprint is minuscule, in comparison to our own? There are 16 African countries whose CO2 emissions per year are 0.15 tons per person or less. As you trace the names of countries as the figure rises, there are many more African and Asian countries, long before any European countries are noted.

By contrast, the figure is 17.10 tons per person for Australia, 15.52 for the USA, and 18.58 for Canada. That is a completely inequitable output. Should we not be suffering more deeply, in the western world, than people in Africa and Asia are? And yet the reality is that the comfortable, even extravagant, lifestyle of the western world is what is driving the incessant rate of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. And the whole world—humans, animals, fish and bird, and vegetation—suffers as a result. The questions raised by Job are acutely relevant to this issue.

(The figures come from https://www.worldometers.info/co2-emissions/co2-emissions-per-capita/)

And the question remains hanging as we reflect on levels of malnutrition and access to food in the current world. The World Food Programme of the United Nations estimates that one in three people around the world. Even before the current pandemic, each and every day of the year, 820 million people were seriously underfed and hungry.

Children bear the brunt of this inequity. 149 million children under 5 are estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 45 million are estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.9 million are overweight or obese. That is a situation that is utterly unjust. The questions press even harder on us.

(See https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition)

We have the means, we are told, to distribute food equitably around the world. And yet up to one third of food is dumped everyday in the USA—a shocking waste of resources and a completely inequitable state of affairs. So those who happen to have been born in certain areas of the world where circumstances beyond their control mean that they are suffering far more than is warranted. Injustice abounds. The questions from Job resonate—how is that fair?

And then, there are survivors of domestic violence, and—still—survivors of child sexual abuse, and those suddenly facing homelessness, and those in the long enduring grip of mental illness, and those fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, seeking refuge and asylum in a welcoming place … and many other situations where the innocent are suffering unjustly. The list could be very long, indeed, if we give careful thought to it.

So, reflecting on these matters, in the light of the discussions that are recorded in the story of Job, we have much pause for thought. How do we reconcile our faith in God—God who is loving, God who is just, God who is overseeing all that takes place—given these terrible realities? Is the image of God that we have accurate? If God can act to change any of these terrible situations that we are facing, why does God not so act? Is God uncaring? Is God unable to act? Is God not concerned with justice?

These are the questions that Job explores. It is a book which provides us with deep resources for thinking about such matters. It is a tale that resonates with so much in the experience of contemporary people. It is a take for our times.

Job: a tale for the pandemic, Part One (Pentecost 19B to 22B)

“Why is light given to one in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it does not come, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures; who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad when they find the grave? Why is light given to one who cannot see the way, whom God has fenced in?” (Job 3:20–23). Why? is the question that Job asks incessantly, as he ruminates on what fate has befallen him.

Job, the righteous, upright person, struck with tragedy and blighted with grief, laments his situation. His story provides a good tale for us to consider during this time of global pandemic. It is a tale that explores the questions that we may be pondering.

As the story begins, we learn that Job had a good, prosperous life; but through no fault of his own, his life is turned upside down; he lost stock—500 oxen, 500 donkeys, 7,000 sheep, and 3,000 camels—and all of his children—seven sons and three daughters (1:13–19). His life, once blessed and enjoyable, was utterly destroyed.

Yet “in all this”, we are told, “Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing” (1:22). Indeed, after each round of festivities enjoyed by his children, his practice was to sanctify all his family. He would “rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all” (1:5). He was indeed “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (1:1).

Job came under attack, he felt. Through no fault of his own, his life was turned upside down. He was deeply distressed. “Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?”, he cried (3:11). “Why were there knees to receive me, or breasts for me to suck?” (3:12). “Why was I not buried like a stillborn child, like an infant that never sees the light?” (3:16). The joy at the prosperity which he had enjoyed had crumbled, his very being was pierced with deep grief and despair.

He turns, in his anguish, to God, whom he accuses of having brought this suffering upon him. “Why have you made me your target? Why have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?” (7:20–21) “Why did you bring me forth from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me, and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave”, he laments (10:17–18).

Job berates God, whom he sees as being negligent in not intervening to save him from his fate. “Why do you hide your face, and count me as your enemy?” (13:24), he asks. Then, some time later, he presses the point: “Why should I not be impatient? Look at me, and be appalled, and lay your hand upon your mouth. When I think of it I am dismayed, and shuddering seizes my flesh.” (21:4–6). He lays the blame at God’s feet: “Why are times not kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?” (24:1)

Why? Why?? Why??? is Job’s constant question.

Job reflects on the quest for Wisdom, which is what is advocated in Proverbs (Prov 1:2–7; 2:1–5; 3:13–18; 4:5–9; 9:10; 15:32–33; 16:16; 17:24; 19:20; etc) and sought by The Teacher (Eccles 1:13; 7:25). Yet the search for Wisdom, who is more precious than jewels (Prov 3:15; 8:10–11), is much more difficult than mining for those precious jewels (Job 28:1–11).

Where shall Wisdom be found? Job asks (28:12). “Where does Wisdom come form?” (28:20). The answer is, “it is hidden from the eyes of all and concealed from the birds of the air” (28:21). Job despairs of ever finding Wisdom. God knows the way to Wisdom (28:23–27), but direct access to Wisdom remains elusive. All that is offered is “the fear of the Lord” (28:28–a verse attributed to Job, but which many scholars consider to be an authorial gloss on the whole speech).

Elihu rebukes Job, turning his incessant questioning back on him: “God is greater than any mortal. Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of my words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though people do not perceive it.” (33:12–14). “Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong”, Elihu contends (34:10). “Surely God does not hear an empty cry, nor does the Almighty regard it”, he maintains (35:13).

The claim that God is not just is an outrage to Elihu. He turns to the inscrutable nature of God: “Surely God is great, and we do not know him; the number of his years is unsearchable” (36:26). “The Almighty—we cannot find him”, Elihu maintains; “he is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness he will not violate” (37:23).

Yet Job will not budge. Finally, after a blistering speech from the Lord himself, out of the whirlwind (38:1–41:34), in which the deity makes it clear that Job cannot pretend to have any comprehension of the ways that God operates, Job backs down. He responds, sarcastically: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (42:2), and then delivers his coup-de-grace: “therefore I despise myself, and repent of dust and ashes” (42:6).

It should be noted that the common rendering of these final words of Job in so many translations have inevitably mistranslated a crucial word. The Hebrew here clearly states, “I repent OF dust and ashes”. The twist to repenting IN dust and ashes, found in most translations, portrays Job as meekly withdrawing his complaint and submitting to the inscrutable mysteries of God.

But he does not. In fact, his final word is another sarcastic barb, aimed directly at God: “I will give up on playing the meek-and-humble supplicant”. He has not had his questions of Why? Why?? Why???answered in any satisfactory way. So he remains defiant. He repents of repenting. He will not be sorry.

It should also be noted that the “happy ever after” ending we have in 42:7–17, in which Job is vindicated and his fortunes are restored twofold, is widely recognised as a later ending which was not part of the original saga. In the original story, Job’s probing questions remain relentlessly unresolved.

The book of Job is a challenging and disturbing book. It takes us to a central dilemma that we all face in our lives. It provides us with a stimulus to undertake an exploration that is eminently suited to the time that we have been experiencing over the past few months in lockdown—indeed, since early in 2020. The book poses the question: Why is this happening? That’s a question many are asking about the pandemic. Why has it come upon us?

Or, to be more theological about it: Why are innocent people suffering? why are we caught in this current spiral? Do those without a moral compass appear to prosper? Why do those who seek to do good find themselves beset by problem after problem?

I’ll explore these questions further in part II of this reflection in the next blogpost.

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See also this series of sermons on Job by Elizabeth:

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/02/living-through-lifes-problems-job-1-pentecost-19b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/10/hope-in-a-broken-world-job-23-pentecost-20b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/17/celebrating-creation-job-38-and-psalm-104-pentecost-21b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/24/coping-with-chaos-and-death-the-wisdom-of-job-pentecost-22b/

Hope in a broken world (Job 23; Pentecost 20B)

The second in a series of sermons on the book of Job, by the Rev. Elizabeth Raine; Tuggeranong Uniting Church, 10 October 2021

***** *****

Last week, we left Job engaged in the task of theodicy, the theological examination of why a just and all-powerful God could allow suffering and evil to exist. Job had become convinced that God was not particularly reasonable and was personally responsible for the suffering of the world. Just to remind you, Job’s words about God were as follows:

To paraphrase the words of David Hume, Job seems to have accepted that God must be somehow malevolent (able, but not willing to prevent evil), as he doesn’t understand why suffering should exist if God is able and willing to prevent it.

When Job’s friends arrive to comfort him, this spirited debate continues as they all decide join in the exploration of theodicy and whether God is just, as well as defending Deuteronomy’s assertions that the wicked are punished and the righteous are rewarded.

The lectionary has made a big jump here from last week with 21 intervening chapters left out. These chapters have largely been poetic speeches by Job and his friends, where they assert Job must have some secret sins, and where Job responds by strenuously denying this. Job’s friends are convinced that God rewards the righteous and punishes the guilty, so they try to convince Job that he must repent of his secret sin. Job, however, refuses, as he believes that he is innocent, a fact we readers know is correct.

This lament of Job reveals his anger, loneliness and frustration. God has become very distant to him, and he cannot find God no matter where he looks.

His grievance at his suffering spurs him to call out to God to demand a day in court where he can put his case to God about the injustice of his treatment, and he is convinced that he will be vindicated. His well-intentioned friends have failed to satisfy him with their orthodox answers, indeed have failed to listen to him.

So even if he is being rebellious, Job decides that he needs to take a risk and deal with God directly, and he therefore becomes much more insistent and increasingly frustrated as God refuses to answer. Karl Jacobsen, in his article on Working Preacher, points out that “Job is clearly ready for his day in court. But therein lies the problem; Job can’t find his way to the courthouse…[and] God is nowhere to be found. God’s hand, it seems to Job, neither leads him nor holds him fast.”

Until God appears in the whirlwind, we have an impasse. Job has scorned the counsel of his three friends. He has decided that he they see blindly and listen deafly. They, on the other hand, cannot understand his stubbornness. They do not recognise that in his suffering, it is Job who actually approaches a closer understanding of God, as distasteful as that understanding might be. Though God might crush him, Job, almost defiantly, still declares his trust in God.

Throughout Job’s speech, there is a great sense of longing for God’s presence, for God’s attention and for God’s caring. This is surely a feeling that can resonate with us all and many of us may have experienced in tragic circumstances.

All of us have sought comfort in disturbing times through prayer, and even today, in the uncertain times of climate change, pandemics, warsand natural disasters, we continue to seek the presence of God in the midst of suffering and injustice. Suffering will always challenge a person’s sense of relationship with God, but it does not need to destroy that relationship. As Christians we believe that, in the midst of suffering God, does come to the afflicted and affirm the presence of grace.

Spill the Beans this week suggests that Job’s anger, like that of the author of Psalm 44 (“Wake up, Lord! Why are you asleep?”), raises important questions about what is and is not permissible to say to God in prayer. Are we honest with God? Do we allow ourselves to lament to God about the unfairness of the tragedies we encounter in life?

Surely it is important that such questions can be voiced before God. There is an honesty in Job’s story that challenges the superficial type of faith that crumbles when tragedy strikes, and there is a freedom here that gives us permission to say what we need to say to God even if we need, like Job, toapologise later. God can take it, and surely God’s grace and love will be there waiting for us.

Part of the power of the book of Job is the fact that it realistically addresses addresses the painful questions of life. Tragedy and suffering are never simple issues; they challenge faith and can create a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Like Job, we often find that there is no shortage of opinions from others trying to explain the pain they are not suffering, and simplistic answers are offered in response to life’s most painful questions.

The strength of Job’s book is that it allows all sides of the issue – the simple answers of the friends and the emotional turmoil of Job – to be heard and heard again. So though it seems to go on and on, repeating the same arguments over and over again, and then failing to provide any answers, this is often the way the problem of suffering is experienced, especially when it comes to the enormous issues of world poverty and economic injustice.

We need to sit as long as we can with those who have suffered and are suffering from injustice and immense suffering. And perhaps, as we ponder our own tragedies, and the fate of the uncounted and unnamed men, women and children who have died in war or ethnic violence, or pray for the current victims of poverty, famine and disease in our world, we might find our thoughts connecting with experiences and the suffering of Job.

And while we cannot measure how God heals, or answers every sufferer’s prayer, or upholds us in the experience of pain, grief or fear, as Christians who understand the grace of God we can surely still believe that God is there waiting for us, even if God seems momentarily absent, in the midst of God’s suffering people.

So from the paradox of faith, we remember:

from silence, comes the song of praise;

from darkness, shines forth the light;

from mystery, comes the kingdom of God.

It is this that allows us to continue to praise God, and to continue to seek out hope in a broken world.

For other sermons on Job, see https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/02/living-through-lifes-problems-job-1-pentecost-19b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/17/celebrating-creation-job-38-and-psalm-104-pentecost-21b/

https://johntsquires.com/2021/10/24/coping-with-chaos-and-death-the-wisdom-of-job-pentecost-22b/

For other sermons on Wisdom, see https://johntsquires.com/2021/09/12/in-the-squares-she-raises-her-voice-lady-wisdom-in-proverbs-pentecost-16b/ on Lady Wisdom, and https://johntsquires.com/2021/08/17/in-order-that-all-the-peoples-of-earth-may-know-your-name-1-kings-8-pentecost-13b/ on the wisdom of Solomon