November is an interesting month to be a pastor.
In most churches, November is a month when thoughts are divided in two directions: 1) People are thinking about the many blessings they are thankful for, and 2) People are thinking about ways to be a blessing to others who are in need. These two threads of thought go together, of course, because the church believes people are blessed so they can be a blessing. However, they are also separate. It is one thing to think about the things we are thankful for; and it is another thing to think about things we wish were better. Most people live their lives somewhere in between thankfulness for all we have and wishing some things were different.
In the Bible, the story of Job explores the line between thankfulness and sorrow, blessings and sufferings, gratitude and longing. Many people in the church have a basic familiarity with Job—he’s the one who loses everything he has, then utters the famous phrase: “The Lord gave, and the Lord took away.” For the popular imagination, this saying is where the story of Job ends. But this famous phrase takes place in the very first chapter of the book!, and Job’s relationship to God becomes far more complex as his suffering continues.
This November we are going to study the book of Job. We will talk about why bad things happen to good people; we will reflect on the things we wish were different in the world; and we will praise God for what we have. In each of these ways, we will examine how gratitude and longing so often happen side by side in the lives of God’s people. And we will work to strengthen our faith that God is with us, even though life is not a fairy tale…
There Once Was a Man Named Job
Life Is NOT a Fairy Tale