Week 1 Thursday


Today’s scripture selection: Job 1-2

Key verses: Job 2:10

     At times, it’s one of the most profound questions that can be asked: “Why?”  A terrible storm rips through a small, sleepy town reducing it to rubble; a freak car accident claims the life of a young driver, an honor student at the local high school; a baby is still born while all indications have been that it would be a normal delivery.  These and a thousand other incidents cause people around the word to question and doubt.  It is the problem of suffering, especially when it bursts into our lives with no easy explanation.

     These are the questions that the Bible wrestles with in the book of Job.  It isn’t easy reading for the faint of heart.  It takes us to the very core of our beliefs about the nature of God, justice, evil, and the meaning of life.  And I’m grateful that it is the scriptures – because that reassures me that they don’t gloss over the real issues; the toughest dilemmas that you and I must face as we make our own journey through life.

     Job had it made.  Rich, blessed with family and fame, no doubt he was respected by some and envied by others.  That is, until it all fell apart, one disaster after another.  The story makes us uncomfortable from the very beginning because it presents us with Satan the accuser and God, engaged in a sort of chess game discussion about whether or not calamity will cause Job to lose his integrity.  Immediately we ask, “How could God allow such suffering in Job’s life as a test?”  That’s not an easily answered question.  Theologians have been wrestling with that one for a long, long time.

  But, for now, as we begin to work our way through this poetic, tragic, but ultimately hopeful story – consider this.  How about your spiritual integrity?  How strong is it?  What might cause it to wither and fade?  Is it based on everything going your way?  Or are you willing to step out in faith and trust, no matter what?  These are good questions to prayerfully ask.  Consider all the blessings God has showered on you and yours over the years.  I imagine, if you try, you can come up with a pretty good list.  I am sure you can list some very difficult times as well.  But on balance, where has God been in the midst of all?  Can you see where even hardship and pain has had some meaning and purpose?  Suffering is real and is not easily explained away.  But so is God’s love and abiding presence.  Where do you see God at work in your life today?

Prayer: Almighty God, you are the Creator and Sustainer of all life.  I don’t always understand your purposes, your timing, and your reasons.  But I trust that you love me.  I pray for your spiritual protection.  And should evil come my way, I pray for the courage to face it knowing I do not face it alone.  Help me to be a person of faith and integrity – no matter what.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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