Sunday school lesson for the week of October 12, 2014
By Rev. John Brantley
Lesson scripture: Job 19:1-7, 23-29
1 Then Job answered: 2 “How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words? 3 These ten times you have cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me? 4 And even if it is true that I have erred, my error remains with me. 5 If indeed you magnify yourselves against me, and make my humiliation an argument against me, 6 know then that God has put me in the wrong, and closed his net around me. 7 Even when I cry out, “Violence!' I am not answered; I call aloud, but there is no justice… 23 “O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! 24 O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; 26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! 28 If you say, “How we will persecute him!' and, “The root of the matter is found in him'; 29 be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, so that you may know there is a judgment.” [NRSV]
Focus: We want justice. We need God.
Reflections: We do not have to look far to find members and neighbors who have yet to recover from the effects of our economic upheaval. “Who is to blame?” seems like a productive question to ask but seldom does the answer change the present reality. Job wrestles with the cause, blame and root of his troubles. Even if we knew for certain where to point the finger the feelings of loss, emptiness and frustration remain.
For those who struggle, a common perception is that no one cares, and if someone does care, they alone cannot transform the crisis. We feel completely stuck and alone. If this is not your experience, it is certainly true for many in your church and community. Occasionally someone speaks up for injustice, naming the violence or shenanigans. Friends and neighbors look to blame, shame or ignore the call.
Job finds faith and foundation in God’s presence. Even when no one else is on our side, God is on our side when we have God at the heart of our living. Job realizes how tempting it is to have others and other things in the place of God. Even when our heart is weary and our purse is empty God is full and stands firm.
In an effort to have some perception of control of our situation we blame, attack and retaliate against a broken world. It might feel good for an instant to have a moment of justice. This justice is fleeting. God’s justice is eternal and reaches far beyond our failings.
We have the unique opportunity as the church to be the foundation stone for the rest of the community in modeling a redeemed community. Being humble, honest and filled with grace we show how God’s redeemed are powerful, useful and meaningful all the while our scars, wounds and rough edges still show the evidence of our persecution and persecuting.
Imagine the stronghold of hope you give to someone who is giving up that God is real in your life. Your keeping that flame ablaze in you can be the foundation others are drawn to God strength in their life.
Homework: Find a pen and a clean sheet of paper and make a written declaration to God and yourself. Write these words: When everything fails and falls away, God still loves me and claims me and always will. Post these words where you work and live to remind you and those around you where you stand.
Prayer: My Lord and My God, you know me as I truly am. At times I feel empty and far away from you even in the middle of your church. Place your hand upon my heart and claim me a fresh and anew. Amen.
Rev. John Brantley is pastor of Rock Springs UMC in the North Georgia Conference. Contact him at email@example.com.