Out of the Whirlwind

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,” Job 38:1

This one verse from our lesson Out of the Whirlwind is so full of instruction that time will not allow for anything beyond that.

The story of Job and his unexplained suffering is one we can all relate to on some level. While we may not have lost as much as he did, we each have had our Job experiences – the times when we are grappling with a major crisis and no one has the answer to our dilemma. The times that we don’t understand the why and in our anguish cry out to God but are only met by silence. That is a Job experience. Continue reading

Intimations of Hope

Running and crawling through waves of artillery, mortar, grenade and rifle fire, a young man risked his life to save his wounded comrades. Not just one time, but scores of times. Putting his own safety aside, he made his way through hellacious gunfire and mortar shelling to rescue the dying. He was a man on a life-saving mission that would not be denied. He was Desmond T. Doss, a World War II medic who was also a conscientious objector.

U.S. Corpsmen carry a wounded Marine on a stretcher to an evacuation boat on the beach at Iwo Jima while other Marines huddle in a foxhole during the invasion of the Japanese Volcano Island stronghold in this file photo of Feb. 25, 1945.

AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal

As a young man I remember being glued to the pages of the book The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T Doss1 as it outlined his heroics. Chronicling miracle after miracle, the book testifies about the care of God over his life that enabled Desmond to extend that care to others.

It can be argued that Desmond was simply committed to his role as a medic and that while unusual, he was just doing his job. That element is true but there’s also a more personal motivation behind Private Doss’s heroic actions. In his own words, Desmond explains it.

“They were my buddies…they trust me. I didn’t feel like I should value my life above my buddies.”2

Continue reading

Retributive Punishment

We often don’t know what we are talking about because our opinions are built around incomplete knowledge of the facts. This week’s lesson on Retributive Punishment serves as a prime example.

Although they expressed themselves with care and genuine concern, the friends of Job did not know what they were talking about. Their summation of the cause of Job’s suffering was wrong. They were convinced Job’s sin(s) was the cause of the calamities that had befallen him.

“If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty, if you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.” Job 8:5-7

This sort of reasoning is ingrained into our thinking. Although we may not verbalize it, all of us have at times concluded that someone afflicted in some tragic way was simply reaping what they had sowed. And  who of us have not wondered the same for ourselves when we faced a personal crisis? Continue reading

The Curse Causeless?

Words matter. That’s the takeaway I received for this week’s lesson on The Curse Causeless.

This week our attention is on the words of Job’s friend Eliphaz. He was one of the three, who in their concern and respect for Job, came to see him after his life was turned upside down. I imagine it was the talk of many. Job was rightfully viewed as a righteous man and it must have been confusing to see him in a position that would normally be equated with punishment from God.

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Job 4:7

I don’t fault Eliphaz for his misguided words. They seem quite reasonable for a friend to say. Job was in a terrible condition. As a friend, if I truly believed that God was punishing him for some infraction, I would want him to acknowledge whatever it was, repent of it and enjoin the mercy of God for restoration. That makes sense to me. Continue reading

Curse the Day

“42,773”

That’s the number of people who commit suicide each year in the United States where suicide is the 10th leading cause of death [1]. Depression, which has many causes, may not lead to suicide but it wears down the life forces of many. It is the leading cause of disability in the US among people ages 15-44 [2]. Lives that once had promise are reduced to hopelessness and despair.

This week as we study Curse the Day, we look at Job as he struggled with his new painful reality. What Job expressed then is repeated by many today.

“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived.” Job 3:3

From week to week we examine the particulars of Job life. From afar we try to imagine what it must have been like to experience the calamities that befell him. The pain, darkness and despair, the unexplained causes he searched for, paint a picture of humanity experiencing the worse that life has to offer. How is possible for anyone to survive such circumstances? Continue reading