January and the Book of Job
January 20, 2014 | My Jottings
Monday greetings everyone! I hope the weather in your little part of the world falls pleasantly on your skin and soul. We have had a few relatively balmy days (at least for Northeastern Minnesota in January) but the dratted weatherman tells us this morning that temperatures will fall steadily today until they’re almost twenty below zero tomorrow morning. Then we’ll have a couple of deep cold days before warming up into the teens and twenties above zero again. This morning one of our Fosters commented that when summer comes she’ll be out on the front deck in her shorts and Crocs and sunglasses, drinking tea and taking in the sun. I know her quite well, and this scenario will last for about ten minutes before she returns to the cool of the air conditioned house and says, “Man, I can’t wait for fall!”
I was looking out the kitchen window this morning as the sun was just beginning to show, and I thought about the sights of January. January is white…white skies and snow and frozen lakes, over 30,000 of them in our humble state. January is grayish brown…the bare trees and the dirty snow drifts on the sides of the roads where the plows have been. January is periwinkle…the color of the snow in the morning sunrise. January is steam…especially the ethereal look of Lake Superior in all its hugeness, steaming quietly (and I try not to think it’s steaming malevolently) in the bitter cold. January is ice…deadly looking icicles the size peoples’ arms and legs hanging from roofs, ice in thick shattered plates piling on top of one another at the edge of the Lake, ice so thick on inland lakes, fishermen drive their trucks on them. January is dark…a dark that stays late and comes early and makes me long to hibernate in my bed instead of rising at 5-something a.m. to begin my caretaking tasks. January is slow. It seems to roll on at glacier speed, and even though I know any day, any month is a gift, I’m always relieved when January is gone. The one thing I like about January is the 12th, which is my daughter Carolyn’s birthday. If not for that blessed day, I could say goodbye to January and never miss it.
Yesterday while Michael was watching football on TV for sixty-seven hours, I made a list of the books I’d like to read in 2014. There are 36 of them. Never in my life have I had to make a list to help me accomplish the reading of books, but alas, lately it is so. Ever since I joined the smart phone world, I’ve noticed a decrease in my reading. This has been very concerning to me, especially since playing Words With Friends and Sudoku and the various other things one can do on a smart phone are the culprits I allow to steal my time. Even though I know it’s not good for the brain, I check the weather, I read the local newspaper and two or three other news sources, play Scramble a time or two, look up information on any random things about which I’m curious, and before I know it, a couple of collective hours are gone from my day. And then I lament the fact that I’m behind in my paperwork and don’t feel like making a wonderful, delicious meal.
Then I happened to read something very interesting by one of my favorite musical artists, Audrey Assad. She noticed a decline in her creativity when she got her first smart phone. I think you’ll find her post very insightful and worthwhile, and you can click here to read it.
Next, I have been visiting a blog for several months now called Study in Brown. I found it through an online friend named Elizabeth, and I so love Tonia’s gentle writing. Recently I read how she set a goal to read 100 books in 2014, and that struck something deep in me. It’s not that I want to read, read, read, so I can put a check mark by each of the 36 titles I wrote down yesterday. It’s so that my brain can go deep again, so I can think and meditate and feel creative and be a miner. I’ve been a skimmer for too long. I’ve been skimming, perhaps even scraping the surface of thinking, not mining the depths like I used to. I’m having difficulty even describing what I’ve lost, in part, I believe, because I’ve given too much time to the brain-hijacking smart phone. Have any of you noticed a similar thing happening to you?
Oh, and I’ll be sharing about some of the books on my list, especially after I read them. 🙂
If you’d like to visit Tonia’s lovely blog, click here.
We’re studying the book of Job in Community Bible Study and even though I haven’t been able to attend our class regularly, I’m keeping up with my daily lesson. I miss being with the beautiful women of my core group. But, Oh. My. Goodness. What a rich, timely, magnificent study this is.
Here are just a few of the many things I’ve underlined in my commentary, from author and pastor Dr. Doug MacIntosh:
“Had [Job] known that his sufferings were significant, he might have found them easier to bear.”
“Many people in the modern world — even Christians — regard Satan as a fantasy or as a mere influence. The Bible does not support such a view. Most of the references to Satan in the Gospels occur on the lips of Jesus Christ. The Son of God once held an extended conversation with the tempter himself in the wilderness of Judea. (Luke 4:1-12). Jesus did not carry on a discussion with an influence…”
“Suffering that is deserved can be endured with patience. It is logical, even if it is painful. Suffering that is undeserved can be borne as well when the purpose is clear. For example, if by suffering a Christian can bear a clear witness that leads to the salvation of others, and if this purpose is known at the time, the pain of affliction is bearable because it has a known meaning. Man cannot live, however, without meaning. During the course of this remarkable book, God is asking Job to submit to his sufferings without knowing the divine purpose. That makes his life much harder. He will have to trust God without knowing God’s intentions. This situation is repeated constantly around the globe as God’s people discover that it is often impossible to discern God’s purposes when sufferings come along. At one time or another, all Christians have to learn this lesson–perhaps the most difficult of all lessons in the Christian life.”
All along this Parkinson’s journey that Michael and I are traveling, it has helped to try to remember that this is not all for nothing. This is all for something. It is not meaningless. We might not know or understand all of what Michael’s suffering could possibly mean, but on our best days we do trust that God has His purposes and He’s good and He’s with us. (We have prayed for healing and continue to pray for healing. But when healing is delayed, or doesn’t come at all, there needs to be a way to live.)
Job was being watched by the unseen realms, both good and evil, and we are being watched too.
This is not going to be a very fine depiction, but consider this with me. What if for one day we were given eyes that could see into the spiritual realm? What if we could see that followers of Christ are on a real and sometimes steep and treacherous road, and He is walking with us, or sometimes walking ahead of us and turning toward us to beckon us further on with those wonderful eyes of His, with an encouraging gesture from those rough and marvelous hands with nail holes in them? What if He stops and sits with us as we catch our breath, puts His arm around us and whispers strength and hope into our ears while we wait for the will to go on to return. What if we could hear Jesus call us by name, saying, “_____, My strength is made perfect in your weakness. I am here to help you love and serve the people in your life. I will help you to know and love Me.” Can you even imagine what it would feel like to hear the Creator of billions of galaxies lovingly speak your very own name?
Then, what if our spiritual eyes could see that in exceedingly great numbers on either side of the road we’re traveling, there are powerful, lightning-bright angels and also loved ones who’ve died before us and gone to heaven, cheering and earnestly urging us on as we follow Jesus, telling us to keep walking and trusting Him; and what if we could see the demonic hordes who hate Him and hate us, spewing their lies and sneers and garbage at us, to entice us to doubt the character of God and further convince us of how hopeless we are and how we’ll never change and He’ll never answer our prayers and this is all a big hoax.
What if something like this is really happening, and we just don’t see it yet?
Job didn’t know that thousands of years later, we would be studying his story and wishing we could be as faithful as he was, even in all of his unbelievable suffering and questioning. But we can learn from him. We can know that whatever we’re going through, if we’re trusting God and trying to look to Him to get us through, if we’re praising Him in the darkness, it’s not for nothing. It means something. He may not reveal that meaning to us in the timing we would prefer (like yesterday), but we can trust Him.
Well, I was going to tell you about the super delicious oatmeal buttermilk pancakes I made for breakfast yesterday, and I was going to burden you with details about Edith’s limp, Millie’s bump, Michael and Julie’s Very Bad, Horrible, Despicable Day That Was Redeemed By Some Hymn Singing In Bed, Michael’s new home health aide named Paul, and I thought I would blather on about a few other things as well.
But I’m looking at the clock, and need to get out of my plaid flannel nightgown and into some real clothes, because Michael has a neurology appointment in one hour!
Many blessings to you this week, dear ones…