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Stretched to the limit

I was recently driving along a long, straight road parallel to Hadrian's Wall. It was such an easy drive with a full, uninterrupted view of the road ahead and the panoramic views of a beautiful landscape as far as the eye could see. Job's back story was impeccable - he was a good businessman, he had a flourishing family and he was a faithful, godly man - he was cruising through life - outwardly and inwardly. The epitaph God had written on his life so far was, “There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.” (See 1: 8).

It was as if the internal and external landscapes of his life were in complete harmony. That is, until the chilling, haunting, menacing question from Satan was uttered:

"Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it?”

Job's life, inside and out, is, metaphorically speaking, placed on the rack - the physical, mental, and spiritual anguish he endures is unspeakable. And yet, despite the dramatic and traumatic changing landscapes, and despite being brought to an almost unrecognisable new reality - his love for God remains constant.

 

These lines from Shakespeare's sonnet 116 evoke the essence of the love Job continued to have despite everything:

"Love is not love

which alters when it alteration finds,

or bends with the remover to remove;

O, no! it is an ever fixed mark,

that looks on tempests and is never shaken".

 

Prayer:

Lord God,

Stretch my capacity to love and to worship you 

in both fruitful 

and excruciating circumstances and experiences;

even when the inner and outer landscapes of my life do not resonate

or live in harmony, 

or when my being is stretched to the limit,

may my love for you and my trust in you be resolute.

Job 1: 1-9; 2: 1-10

1: 1 There was a man named Job, living in the land of Uz, who worshiped God and was faithful to him. He was a good man, careful not to do anything evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, one thousand head of cattle, and five hundred donkeys. He also had a large number of servants and was the richest man in the East.

4 Job's sons used to take turns giving a feast, to which all the others would come, and they always invited their three sisters to join them. 5 The morning after each feast, Job would get up early and offer sacrifices for each of his children in order to purify them. He always did this because he thought that one of them might have sinned by insulting God unintentionally.

6 When the day came for the heavenly beings to appear before the Lord, Satan was there among them. 7 The Lord asked him, “What have you been doing?”

Satan answered, “I have been walking here and there, roaming around the earth.”

8 “Did you notice my servant Job?” the Lord asked. “There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.”

9 Satan replied, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it?

2: 1 When the day came for the heavenly beings to appear before the Lord again, Satan was there among them. 2 The Lord asked him, “Where have you been?”

Satan answered, “I have been walking here and there, roaming around the earth.”

3 “Did you notice my servant Job?” the Lord asked. “There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil. You persuaded me to let you attack him for no reason at all, but Job is still as faithful as ever.”

4 Satan replied, “A person will give up everything in order to stay alive. 5 But now suppose you hurt his body—he will curse you to your face!”

6 So the Lord said to Satan, “All right, he is in your power, but you are not to kill him.”

7 Then Satan left the Lord's presence and made sores break out all over Job's body. 8 Job went and sat by the garbage dump and took a piece of broken pottery to scrape his sores. 9 His wife said to him, “You are still as faithful as ever, aren't you? Why don't you curse God and die?”

10 Job answered, “You are talking nonsense! When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?” Even in all this suffering Job said nothing against God.

 
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