Today’s sermon was titled, “Out of the Whirlwind.” It was presented by a guest pastor, Rev. Carol Shellenberger. As is my habit, I listened to the message and took notes poetically. The message was based on Job 1:1, and 2:1-11. Through my filters and personal experience, here is what I heard her say:
Job was faithful and blameless.
He was upright, loving and kind.
God was praising him to Satan,
“Job’s the most respected man you’ll find.”
Satan told the Lord, “Job is protected;
He has everything and is richly blessed.
If you take it all away from him,
He will curse you to your face like all the rest.”
So God allowed Satan to do whatever
Against all he owned, and eventually to him.
For 37 chapters, Satan took his health and wealth.
Job’s life was gruesome; he felt doomed and grim.
Finally in the 38th chapter, God spoke to Job.
Essentially His message was, “I am God, you know?
Where were you when I made the earth?
Who are you to talk so much and question so?”
It wasn’t God telling Job not to complain.
It was God setting boundaries and establishing power.
God is indeed all-powerful, The Omnipotent.
Job responded, “No one can oppose your mighty shower.”
It is alright to shout and complain
When life showers you with troubles galore.
God doesn’t promise you freedom from trouble;
He promises you PEACE and so much more.
I know my notes only partially reflect the message the preacher intended today. But, I think I caught the flavor of her message. Job has always been a troublesome book for me. It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of God. Not the loving, compassionate God I want to turn to in time of trouble! So, when troubles shower you, how do you find comfort in studying Job? Misery loves company? Job survived it so I can, too? Nothing is so bad that with faith and perseverance, we can’t endure it?
I have a friend with a brain tumor. Her pain is so intense some weeks that a shower is not possible. The water hitting her body hurts too much. There is no cure. It’s inoperable.
Another friend who was the caregiver for her mom who had pancreatic cancer, lost her five-year-old daughter in an accident just weeks before her mom died. A month later my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.
A cousin whom I dearly love has been through the trauma of bankruptcy. She and her husband lost their home and their business in the recent economic downturn. From a position of wealth, security, and family harmony, she suddenly was homeless, broke, and facing marital difficulties as a result of the financial strain.
You have friends or loved ones, family members, neighbors who struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds, too, don’t you? How do they cope? Some take seem to manage better than others. What makes the difference? Job cried out to God, but he never lost faith. He complained bitterly, but he never stopped believing. In the end, God replaced his home, his animals and crops, his wealth and his health. The family he lost could not be replaced, but he found new love and he found peace again.
When troubles shower you, the message of Job is this: do not let the sorrow overtake you. Do not let the shower wash away your faith in God. Keep your conversation open with God. Complain bitterly, question His motives, ask WHY as often as you want – but in the end, know God is God. He will not forsake you. Heaven awaits.
The bulletin at church had a very meaningful Prayer of Confession followed by an Assurance of Pardon. Let me share it with you.
“Redeemer God, we like to see ourselves as Job saw himself – blameless, upright and God fearing. We would like to present ourselves before You, worthy of Your bountiful love and care, but we know we are not. Some of us avoid all news that is bad. Some of us imagine that there is little news that is good. Some days we exchange places with each other.
Forgive our customary silence that says nothing and does less. Forgive our usual despair that dreams of shadows and hopes for night. Forgive our lingering doubt that wonders where You are. Help us to hear You calling us in the whirlwind, reminding us to whom we belong. Come, Spirit of God, to inspire our speech, our vision, and our trust.
God’s hope is more tenacious than our despair;
God’s joy is more resilient than our grief;
God’s love is more compelling than our disgust.
By grace, we are gathered to God.
By faith, we rest in God’s promises of forgiveness and restoration.
Friends, believe the Good News.
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.”
God is with you.
By God’s Omnipotent Power, be at peace.