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God loves us, even when we are hurting and we think know better than him.

Job 38

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?

31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?

39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

Cross,Jesus,God,Holy Spirit,Daily Devotion,Know

As a teenager in a first-world country, I (Maddie) can’t accurately say I know much about real suffering.

When I was in primary school, going to school and learning was fun. It was simple and interesting and enjoyable. However, like most patterns, there was an unfortunate exception: Maths. If I said that I find Maths a bother, that would be me being very generous. I hate Maths, and as a result I find it exceedingly difficult to learn and understand. It feels like suffering to me!

I was outraged by that fact that I was stuck with the subject for my entire school career. I didn’t understand what it could possibly contribute to my wider life or why the teachers were so adamant about us studying it. I couldn’t even grasp why it would be useful! I wanted to drop the subject and run, without looking back. I thought I knew better and that the imposition on me was absolutely and completely unfair. What were my parents and these teachers doing to me? Their patient explanations that there were good reasons to study Maths just fell on deaf ears. I didn’t understand the bigger perspective.

In today’s passage, God addresses Job. Job has just spent many chapters complaining to God about the suffering that has befallen him. And it is actually very bad suffering. This is not some minor inconvenience (like Maths) that he had to put up with, but the genuine tragedy of death and sickness and loss. This was the real deal. And maybe you’ve seen something in your life which echoes Job’s experiences.

God’s answer to Job is more or less the same, though. God has patiently listened to him as he poured out his complaint. But now God goes on to tell Job that he knows what Job doesn’t. God is the one who created and maintains the world. He is the one who made and controls the forces of nature. His knowledge and power and goodness is far beyond what Job can even imagine. God points out to him that, really, Job doesn’t even realise how much he doesn’t know about God and his purposes and actions.

The implication is that God’s reasons for Job’s suffering are beyond Job’s knowledge, and perhaps even beyond his ability to know. This is a hard message for us, who want to assess and judge everything – even God. The reassurance for us is the goodness of God. Job did trust God, without even having seen His goodness shown though Jesus. We have the added advantage that we have seen it.

Suffering doesn’t disappear simply because we know that God is in control. We instead hold our suffering and his love together, not simply denying either one because of the other. His love and greatness do give us the assurance that we can trust him to bring us through the hard times to a place of eternal joy. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)

Head: Before suffering comes to us, it is worth thinking about how we view our relationship with God. Are you making assumptions about God that might come between you when times get tough?

Heart: Is there a desire in your heart to want to judge God, whether in good times or bad? Why is that?

Hands: God shows his amazing compassion for us through the life and death of Jesus. Resolve today to speak and act compassionately towards those sisters and brothers who are suffering.

Prayer: Our Father, we come to you in the pain of our suffering – the pain that we are suffering now and have suffered in the past. We confess that sometimes we think you are unfair, or that we know better than you, or that we want to take the role of judging you. Thank you that you are patient with us. Thank you that you are so much bigger than us. Thank you that you have taken us into your arms, through the love and gift of Jesus. Please help us to hold our suffering and your love together, not denying either because of the other. Thank you that Jesus makes everything right for eternity. Amen.

A song to listen to: Blessed Be Your Name

Maddie Pryde and Geoff Pryde- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina

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