Prayer for the day
O LORD, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you. Let my prayer enter into your presence . . .
Scripture for the day
It’s easy to believe God gives us good times. It’s easy to believe in the easy blessings, the comfortable ones. It’s harder to believe that sometimes adversity is a gift of God. It’s hard to believe that punishment and discipline can be gifts as well. Especially when they’re particularly painful.
The story of Job is one of the most difficult in the First Testament. Job is a righteous, upstanding man who is (for no good reason we can determine) chosen to be persecuted by an agent of God to test his faith. Instead of arguing about the identity of the Satan figure in Job, or teasing out the theological ramifications of his being in the presence of God, we need to look at what the story is really trying to get at, and that is the groaning. It is the testing of Job’s faith in a fairly difficult situation. Job’s family is killed, his wealth is destroyed, and his body is wracked by disease. All of this is allowed by God in order to prove Job’s faithfulness to his God. It is not only allowed, it is given to Job. It is clear that this doing is supernatural in origin.
Instead of doing what most of us would do, instead of blaming God for being awful, Job sits in pain and sorrow, and he worships. He recognizes that all of his life is a gift, not just the easy parts.
Stephen does the same thing as he continues the story of God’s interaction with the Israelites. Not only are the easy parts of the story the gift of God, but the difficult parts as well. The exile was perpetrated by God, but done for the purpose of discipline so that the people would return.
We would be wise to stop asking whether God DID this or that, and to start asking what we should do in response.