Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Love - And the man from Uz

Job was a patriarch in the land of Uz, a highly respected and honored man. When he came into the city he was invited to judge by the gate, where he had his own seat that no one else occupied. His name was synonymous with righteousness, and in our day with patience. He used his wealth to help the widows and orphans and he offered shelter to travelers. He always acknowledged God as its source. Yet Job had his own sorrows. His sons no longer chose to live at home but gathered for feasts with their unmarried sisters. He may have been alienated from his children by his inflexible attitudes. He spent his day making sacrifices on behalf of each child to atone for their behavior. He conformed meticulously to the rituals of his church. Perfection can be hard to live with. Evil was a powerful reality to Job. Yet, God considered Job his champion on earth.

In the story, the sons of God gathered in His presence, Satan among them. Satan, at this time, was viewed as only having the power to accuse and oppose. God asks him where he has been and his answer is a clear indication of the mischief of error 'going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it'. Many of our problems come from this attitude of wavering back and forth over an issue, going back and forth in our devotion to church or family, variableness. As for 'up and down' how often that brings unhappiness; if our weight is up or down, if our check book balance is up or down, if the stock market is up or down, if our mood is up or down, etc. Satan has been wandering around looking for a perfect man and God reminds him of Job. Job is to be tested.

In a series of shocking events Job loses his wealth, his possessions, his children. Up to this point Job's religion sustains him. He expresses overwhelming grief but does not turn from God. He declares everything belongs to God including himself. He passes the first test. But Satan is not finished. His true purpose is to challenge God by showing which is more powerful, good or evil. The first test took away Job's substance, the second will threaten to destroy his soul and his will to live. Does it seem unjust for Job to suffer? Was it unjust for Jesus to suffer?

Job ends up covered with boils, sitting on a rubbish heap and his wife leaves him. Now all Job has is God. Word spreads rapidly of Job's misfortunes. The doctrine of divine retribution implies Job must have committed some great sin to be punished this way. Tomorrow we will go on to meet three of his friends that come to comfort him. For today, I want to have compassion on this good man, who has his faults, but faces this challenge alone with God.

We may have what we consider 'Job challenges' with our children, with our income, with our spouse. Studying this story may give insight in how to pray about these things. Job believed in the power of evil. As students of Christian Science we learn not to be impressed by the power evil claims to have but to see instead the all-power of divine Love. A well known speaker on Bible characters, Cobby Cristler, says that Job was from the land of Us. So it is well worth spending some time with his story.

Be at peace.

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