Prayer for the day
Our help is in the Name of the Lord; the maker of heaven and earth.
Scripture for the day
The book of Job is a book of suffering and response. It has to be one of the most difficult books in the Bible, because of the intense anguish that Job experiences and his harsh condemnation of his situation. In the passage for today, Job is in such terrible turmoil that he curses the day of his birth, longing for the comfort of death to take him so that he might be free from the pain and anguish he is experiencing. He is a man who has lost everything but his life, and he longs to give even that up.
In his turmoil, his friends come to visit him. One of his friends, Eliphaz, decides to speak with Job and let him know that he must have been involved in some unrighteous activity, because, as Eliphaz says, “those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” Eliphaz believes he is giving good counsel. He believes what he is saying, but we will see that Eliphaz’s words are not the words of wisdom. As the Psalmist so regularly reminds us, rain falls on the good AND the bad.
Stephen is not a man who has plowed evil or sown trouble, yet evil and trouble are certainly his lot at the end. Stephen is a man who has spoken righteous words to the religious leaders, words of life and words of hope. They are condemning words as well, but in all this Stephen does not sin. The trouble for Stephen comes from the fury of those who are condemning him.
Both Stephen and Job are men who suffer. Stephen suffers the pain of stoning, and Job suffers the pain of loss and sickness. What is important about these men is not the kind of suffering they endure, but the response they proffer. Stephen praises God. Job, though he curses his birth, does not sin in response. He seeks to remain pure in his suffering.
May we suffer likewise.