40 Days in the Desert - A Lenten Challenge
Day 18 - The Anger Effect
Have you ever been hurt by someone? If not, you are a rare creature! Most of us have been hurt plenty of times by others. And I think one of the most common ways of dealing with that hurt is anger. Some people will hold on to a grudge, with feelings of resentment causing a foul taste in your mouth at the mere mention of that person's name. Others will lash out at that person letting their anger be known. Some will just quietly go on about their lives without ever mentioning it, all the...
Day 17 - Holding On
I remember having a conversation with an old friend and explaining to him what I had been up to and how I was running my own business. I said, "thank God!" showing gratitude to the fact that God had blessed me and been with me throughout the journey. He seemed agitated that I would give God all of the credit, challenging me to direct the praise at myself and my hard work. Of course, I don't discount that it took lots of work, but without God I never would've been able to do it. You hear in...
Day 14 - Worth the Wait
Trees are pretty resilient. If you cut off their branches they will grow back in time. Some trees will even sprout again after being cut down completely. On the other hand, human life is short and death if final. And that's the message we here from Job in today's reading. "But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him; when a mortal expires, where then is he? As when the waters of a lake fail, or a stream shrivels and dries up, So mortals lie down, never to rise. Until the heavens are no more,...
Day 12 - Swimming Upstream
Rivers flow downhill. That's a fact. It's just the way water works. They start at the top of mountains winding there way down to the valleys and eventually emptying themselves into the ocean. It is an actual sport to sit on an inflatable raft and let the current take you where it wills. And the current can be powerful and very rough. Once you're in it it can be almost impossible to get out. You are at the mercy of the current. If you've ever seen whitewater rafters flying down the...
Day 11 - Lift Up Your Face
Have you ever heard that line "keep your head up"? It's what people will say to lift the spirits of someone who is feeling sad. Well that's sort of what Zophar, the third of Job's friends to speak, says in today's reading. "If iniquity is in your hand, remove it, and do not let injustice dwell in your tent, Surely then you may lift up your face in innocence; you may stand firm and unafraid." — JOB 11:14-15 But Zophar isn't simply saying, things are going to be alright. He is actually...
Day 10 - You Hunt Me Like a Lion
We've heard Job tell God to basically give him some space. He feels the weight of God's presence. He feels pressured by God's rules. And in today's reading as Job continues his discourse with God he uses a rather strange analogy, comparing God's constant pursuit of him as being hunted. "You hunt me like a lion: repeatedly you show your wondrous power against me, You renew your attack upon me and multiply your harassment of me; in waves your troops come against me." — JOB 10:16-17
Day 8 - The Death Question
Today's reading is the first response from the second of Job's friends. His name is Bildad and he too tries to help Job see both reason and through the eyes of faith. Again some of the things he tells Job are to challenge him, to get him out of this funk that he finds himself in and hopefully to trust in God. "How long will you utter such things? The words from your mouth are a mighty wind! Does God pervert judgment, does the Almighty pervert justice? If your children have sinned against...
Day 6 - When "Friends" Fail Us
In our reading today Job continues in his reply to his friend Eliphaz. Even though the words of his friend were meant to encourage him to stay strong in the struggle, Job doesn't see it that way. He lashes out, clinging to his pain. When we are in the midst of the storm the darkness can seem to be overwhelming. Job is rightfully depressed. He explains that it is because of the tremendous pain he is in that he feels the way he does. And even though his three friends are there with him he...
Day 5 - Fatherly Discipline
"Happy the one whom God reproves! The Almighty’s discipline do not reject. For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands give healing." — JOB 5:17-18 Many people struggle with the idea of whether God punishes or not. This translation uses the word reprove, and I think to punish is a different thing altogether. I think of punishment more as a physical act. And of course we're not saying that God is up in the clouds waiting for us to mess up so He can start throwing thunderbolts...
Day 2 - Skin in the Game
Today it gets personal. At this point Job it would seem that Job has already lost everything—his wealth, his livelihood, and his family. But Satan isn't done with him yet. There is another conversation between Satan and God, similar to the one we saw yesterday.