Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Misery

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 -- Week of Proper 16, Year Two
Louis, King of France, 1270
More about today's commemoration at our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgyandmusic.wordpress.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 981)
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning)       12, 13, 14 (evening)
Job 6:1; 7:1-21
Acts 10:1-16
John 7:1-13

Job's words in this seventh chapter are so poignant.  He describes a living death.  His misery and suffering are beyond endurance.  Why? he asks.  We feel his weariness, his longing to be left alone, his longing to die.

Sometimes when I have been traveling, I have passed through places of incredible, grinding poverty.  I see people working under such hard conditions, and hear someone say that they are the lucky ones because they have jobs -- their families will have food tonight.  Earthy, dirty, unsanitary.  I
wonder about them.  What is their life like?  How different it is from mine.  What does this mean?  My mind goes to the epidemic of cholera now sweeping over the millions already ruined by floods in Pakistan.

Job's words ring like a challenge to God.  How can this be?  Why is there such suffering?  What is this to you, O God?  If this is your vision upon us, leave us alone.

"Do not human beings have a hard service on earth, and are not their days like the days of a laborer?  Like a slave who longs for the shadow...

"My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out again...

"Remember that my life is a breath; ...as the cloud fades and vanishes, so those who go down to Sheol do not come up; they return no more to their houses, nor do their places know them any more."

Job turns his complaint toward God.  He remembers the ancient myths of the storm god who defeated the dragon to be the chief god.  The Bible asserts God's power as supreme over them.  Job speaks sarcastically to God.  Why do you hurt me?  Am I as important as the gods of myth?  "Am I the Sea, or
 the Dragon, that you set a guard over me?  When I say, 'My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,' then you scare me with dreams and terrifying visions so that I would choose strangling and death rather than this body.  Let me alone, for my days are a breath."

He closes with a bitter taunt toward God.  "For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be."

I have known people living in such despair.  When death feels like release.  When suffering is unmitigated and without reason.

It is important to know that God accepts, upholds and justifies Job in the end.  God visits Job with an experience of the divine reality that transcends all that Job has experienced.  God answers Job's friends, who are horrified at Job's challenging words toward God -- God says that Job's honest
y and integrity are more acceptable to God than their antiseptic and proper theology.

When we are angry, we can be angry toward God, for God is big enough to take our anger.  Ultimately, God is responsible for all, including the injustice and suffering of mere humanity.  Job's provoking questions are fair questions, real and honest questions.  If our misery is to have an answer,
the answer must come from God.  God, there is such misery.

Lowell

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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

2 Comments:

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a call this week from a friend who was looking for the phone number of another person who could answer his question about going to Pakistan to help the suffering there. He is a single man who has travelled the world living out his call to be of service. My response to disasters is to write a check (or a credit card payment.) This isn't good enough for some. I wish it weren't for me.

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

How wonderful are those persons who get their hands into the tough places of life. But, without the checks that back them up, they might not be there at all.
Lowell

 

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