Week Thirty: The Monday Review
The Old Testament, wisdom book of Job follows the life of a man so completely devoted to God that even in the midst of weariness, suffering and despair, Job chose to make worship of his weeping.
His words and disquietude yearned for holiness and truth.
Many years have passed since I read the whole book of Job straight-through. As a narrative complete on its own, Job is gorgeous, meticulous and devastating. It encapsulates the heaviest forms of suffering. Job's wealth, reputation and health are violently snatched away. Most significant of all, his beloved children are struck down in a windstruck tent.
Bill Kynes, a Cambridge University PhD from TGC, writes:
Job isn't a detached philosophical treatise on the nature of suffering; it's much more about the real experience of actual suffering, and what that means for one's relationship with God.
But even in its authentic grounding, the book is "a masterpiece of dramatic art." Its poetic composition contributes to the way we understand its message. As readers, we must allow Job's lament (lament: literary definition, a non-narrative poem expressing deep grief or sorrow over a personal loss) to move our hearts and minds. We cannot read Job dispassionately and receive what the book has to offer. We must embrace Job's emotional turmoil.
I could not help but weep when I read Job. Grief is long and arduous in the book's fourty-two chapters, its extensive dialogue with conflict and confusion in tow. The words of Job's friends, who come to comfort him, are like bandaids laid gently over a wound––only to be ripped off in the following paragraphs. Reading Job, my prayer becomes this: that my response to suffering, whether in my own grief or in the grief of others, would resonate with compassion and hope.
Then I would still have this consolation
–– my joy in unrelenting pain ––
that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.
---- Job 6:10
Would you pray with me?
Blessed God, who gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart, we pray for Ukraine and Russia. Mature our understanding of the circumstances that afflict these nations. We pray that the weapons carried by men and women on both sides of the border would be remounded into ploughs, instruments to rebuild the beautiful nation of Ukraine.
Bread of Life and Living Water, we believe in your omnipotence. We ask you to meet the collective and individual needs of the men, women and children who have been violently forced from their homes. Be the source of their spiritual and physical nourishment. Bring them cooked meals, clean water, warmth and electricity for showers and light. Guide translators to all who need clarity, as they enter the bordering countries. Build sanctuaries of peace for your people on both sides of Ukraine-Russia border.
Give Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Belarus and the United Kingdom wisdom and provisions for welcoming the Ukrainian refugees. We pray for our world leaders, that their decisions would be moral, courageous and honest. We pray for the world, that in this moment of crisis, we may be men and women who stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need.
We pray that you would give mothers and fathers the words they need to comfort their children. We believe in your promise to shelter widows and orphans. For this is what is written in your word: 'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world,' James 1: 27. We ask that you bring midwives and nurses to watch over expectant mothers and injured individuals. Reassure grandparents that your covenant legacy will endure.
Mighty God, give strength and courage to all who have taken up arms to defend Ukrainia. Greaten the unity between people from different socio-economic backgrounds until they are one in humility, resilience and faith. As in Daniel 3, we pray that governing powers would recognise you as the 'fourth man in the crossfire.' Deliver the oppressed.
We ask this in the blessed name of your son. Amen.