Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I don’t believe that God causes suffering. I especially do not believe that God causes suffering to test us or to prove our faith. And yet, I love the Book of Job. I love Job’s vulnerability and honesty. I love his sense of perspective (and humility): “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.” I am a spiritual exemplar of neither humility nor keen perspective most days.
The verses for today remind me of the funeral liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer: “All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” I think that’s what Job is doing. He is claiming God’s presence and God’s goodness even in the midst of suffering. His prayer about God’s goodness is a form of protest. He is clinging to hope even when there is no reason or rationale. That’s a powerful way to live and respond to the world’s pain.
Job’s words today also remind me of my favorite quote by Fatema Mernisi: “Hope is my drug and official addiction. Pessimism is the luxury of the powerful. I can’t afford it.”
So, that’s my prayer for this day. To have no other option than hope. To have no other option than trust. To be able to respond to suffering with reckless hope. To be empowered to respond to pain with reckless trust in God’s abiding presence. God doesn’t cause suffering, but God is radically present with us in our pain. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Here’s a prayer for today: Constant Companion, be present with us today. Transform our fears, embrace our doubts, and fill us with your faithful hope. Amen.
Today’s devotional comes from Immanuel’s Evening Service Coordinator Billy Kluttz. You’re invited to worship with us on Sundays at 5:30 pm.