Last week's reading brought an end to the first era of the Old Testament storyline, the CREATION era. Before moving on to the second era, the PATRIARCHS, we want to spend a week reading portions of the story of Job. Chronologically, there is uncertainty as to where Job's life fits within the Old Testament timeline. In fact, the story takes place in a city called Uz, which isn't in Israel. None of the story's main characters are even Israelite people.
The book of Job focuses on one man, Job, and his experience with suffering and grief. When the story begins, Job has everything -- family, wealth, possessions. He also has great faith in the Lord. So much so, that God is willing to allow Satan to afflict Job in various ways to prove that Job's faithfulness is not merely a result of God's blessings upon him, but of Job's commitment to the Lord. After two chapters, Job has lost everything. The remainder of the book deals with Job's desire to know why he is suffering. It plays out in a series of conversations between Job and four friends, culminating in a conversation between God and Job.
The story of Job resonates with us deeply because it deals with questions such as: Why do bad things happen to good people? Do I deserve the suffering I'm experiencing? What is God's role in human suffering? Why is suffering a reality in our world at all? These are questions that have troubled humanity since sin and suffering entered the world after the Fall. Ultimately, we are shown that in the face of suffering and grief, God invites us to trust Him, His eternal goodness, and His work in the midst of our suffering.
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FAMILY INGREDIENT: KNOWING GOD
God describes Job as "blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Soon after, Job's life goes from wealth and happiness to great suffering. Job doesn't blame God, but he does begin to despair. His friends falsely accuse Job, "Your own sin has brought God's punishment," which Job denies. Then God, Himself, challenges Job. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Where does darkness reside? Let him who accuses God answer Him!" Job’s realization: God is the only One in control. Job confesses his ignorance and lack of trust, and he repents. We, too, need to remember God's character. When negative circumstances happen, that does not mean His love for us has changed or His control has faltered. We need the growing ingredient of Knowing God. In Him alone we can trust.
- Job suffered bad things. How do you think Job was able to keep believing in God's goodness?
- Sometimes hard things happen because we have sinned and sometimes it doesn't have anything to do with what we've done. Give examples.
- When bad things happen, does that mean that God is angry with us? Remember: bad things came into the world with sin in the Garden of Eden, as a result of man’s choices, not God’s.
- Is it okay to get angry or upset at God when bad things happen? Read Psalm 22:1-2. The writer is angry because he feels like God is far away.
- Now read Psalm 22:24. The author reminds us that God does not hide His face from us, but listens to our cries for help.
For fun, read through God's questions to Job concerning crocodiles and answer them (Job 41:1-14). For younger children pick a few questions (see vs. 5 and 14). Part of the family ingredient of Knowing God is learning that we can trust Him when difficult things happen and come to Him through prayer.
Activity: Create Family Prayer Log. On the left side of the page, write down specific things that you are praying about as a family and log today's date. Draw a line down the center; on the right side, note any progress and the date when the prayer is answered. Keep this as a testimony to your family of all the ways that God has been working.
Craft Idea: Family Prayer Jar. Materials needed: jar, vase, basket or box, scrapbook or colored paper, decorations (optional). Cut paper into squares. Decorate the container. Brainstorm family needs as well as needs outside your family. Write prayer requests on squares; add to jar. Set aside blank squares for additional requests. Before meal or bedtime, pull out a request and pray for that need. As prayers are answered, thank God for His help.
ADAPTED FROM "MAKING A PRAYER JAR" BY OUR FAMILY FOR HIS GLORY
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
- Is there an example from Job's life to follow? – No one is immune to suffering; each of us experiences pain and suffering at some level through our life circumstances. What can we learn from Job's example? How do we prepare ourselves to persevere through any pain or suffering that may come our way in life?