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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bookends (01/30/14)

TITLE: Missing the Point
By Stanley McMahon


According to the scholars, it is one of the most ancient pieces of Bible literature. It is mysterious in its content and we know very little about its location and we find it difficult to figure out, but what we do know is the start of the Book of Job and the end of it are the parts we are strangely most comfortable with.
We are fascinated by the scenario of Satan being summoned by the Most High God and being interrogated. If we are honest, it gives us a sense of pleasure to think we can see behind the scenes of Job’s horrendous ordeal and we look on with salivating souls in wonder at this man of righteousness who goes through some of the worst physical and emotional upheaval.
At then at the last, there is the happily-ever-after ending with the man in question being twice as blessed afterwards as before, and the unhelpful friends being brought to judgement. Yes it does end wonderfully well and it starts at a hurricane pace, but we do ourselves a great disservice if we treat this piece of Wisdom Literature as some sort of allegorical sandwich with the start and the finish being the focus of our studies. Perhaps we even miss the point, because all through the book we see a man surrounded by well-meaning friends with a shallow theology and an attitude of one-upmanship; it is not they who are suffering and therefore not they who have sinned, or so they reason.
But let us not be distracted by the side-shows and the clowns: here is a man who is seriously struggling with God as he tries to make sense of his life and therein lies the essence of the story. This is the story of every man who has ever tried to walk with God. It is the story of faithfulness in the face of trials, even when friends fail and point the finger, even when all else is falling apart and there is nothing left but you and God. This is not about the book’s ends – the great unveiling of the spiritual warfare at the start and then the breath-taking display of sovereign power and divine revelation at the conclusion, awe-inspiring as they are; this is about the journey we live through on the way to heaven. It is the drama of living faith that says stubbornly and with utter confidence, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’ The underlying implication is both simple and profound: if He lives, then that is all that matters.
I once heard a sermon by the Rev. John Girvan, a Presbyterian minister who was a raw and godly evangelist with a pastoral heart. He had come to my home church to conduct a series of evangelistic meetings. I was struck his honesty and love for God and for the Bible but I particularly remember one story he told. He told us about a lady who had lost her husband quite tragically. She was broken-hearted and John Girvan was asked to preach at the funeral. He went to the house and was speaking to a gathered crowd on the day of the funeral when the widow began to sing in the midst of the mourning, words of hope that touched the hearts of all who were present. Soon all were singing and weeping together: ‘Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know Who holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.’ And that was the same truth that Job had discovered in the middle of his sufferings. And that is the gem we need to mine out of that rock of a book; that is the immovable hope that we can depend upon, irrespective of our own stories’ beginnings and endings.

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Brenda Rice 02/06/14
Good devotion filled with knowledge and wisdom. Well written, informative and interesting.

Thanks for sharing.
Francie Snell 02/08/14
You make a great point. It's in Job's long painful walk between the beginning and the end where the lessons are learned. Thanks for sharing.
Larry Whittington02/12/14
A very well written commentary on the Book of Job.

To hold our lives together we need to grasp same sense of faith and trust that Jesus lives so no matter what "it is well with my soul".