DAILY LECTIONARY — Despair is NOT Faithlessness

 

8 “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope,
9 that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10 This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
13 Have I any help in me, when resource is driven from me? (Job 6:8-13 ESV)

I’m going to try to comment regularly on the daily lectionary. I know, I’ve made promises before to comment regularly, and of late, I have abandoned them. So, I’m not promising every day … some days I may awake and find myself too busy to reflect, or too unmotivated.

But I need a regular discipline of some kind. So I will try. It’s all I can promise.

I think we all have some grasp on the story of Job. He was a righteous man, and God was very pleased with Job’s righteousness, until Satan (הַשָּׂטָן the adversary) comes to God and says it’s easy for Job to be upright and good because he has it so well. He’s rich and comfortable and his life is going right. Satan than says to God:

“But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:11 ESV)

Job’s family is killed, his wealth is taken from him, and eventually his health is as well. And what follows is an extended meditation between Job, three friends, and eventually God, about the meaning of suffering and man’s relationship with God.

Job has come to curse his very existence. He wonders what he has strength for, what he patiently awaits. In his dislocation, in which virtually everything but his life has been taken from him, and in which his friends try to convince him this is all somehow his fault (and we, the readers, know it is not).

It is not faithlessness to cry out like this, to wonder where God is, to question the point of our strength and our patience and even our purpose. I do, right now. Whatever reason Jesus called me, spoke to me, bid me to follow, I can’t see it anymore. It has cost me 10 years of my life, and I now work at an entry-level reporting job making around 80 percent of what I made 20 years ago doing the same work.

In some things I am not blameless, but I still don’t entirely understand what has happened, why the church has been, overall, so cold, callous, and unwelcoming. I had held out hope, but no more.

I no longer know what I wait for. I no longer know what my strength is for.

I’m not sure I want God to crush me, but I understand the feeling.

This is despair. This is hopelessness. And it is not unfaithful. It is not the answer — Job is later rebuked, as are his three miserable friends — but it is not faithlessness either. It is okay to cry out to the cosmos in despair, and wonder just what the point of it all is.

It is okay.

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