Watch the Sunday School video for August 22, 2021
posted on the church Facebook page.

Focal passage: Job 30:16-23
Background passage: Job chapter 29: 1-17 
Chapter 29 reveals that Job is looking back in time, thinking about the way things used to be when life was good. God was present with him, blessing his life with children, prosperity, and the respect of all who knew him. Job says that he influenced the young and cared for the poor and the orphaned. His life was an inspiration to others. In this reflection, Job is not egocentric but rather Job knows that the honor he receives is because his life embodies the values of the community. His sense of responsibility for the poor in the community is part of his identity. 

What is the problem of associating the blessings of God with the presence of God? What happens when the gifts of God become a part of your identity? 

Job 30:1-15 
Job says that now young men treat him with disdain. These are individuals who do not contribute to society and yet they ridicule and make fun of him. In contrast to his previous experience revealed in chapter 29, Job now suffers public humiliation (verses 9-10). Job blames God for his suffering (verse 11). 
Job 30:16-23
Job experiences emotional damage and physical suffering. Once filled with delight and joy, his life is being “poured out” or ebbing away. He feels as though he is being grabbed by his collar and choked to death — not by a person or an animal but by God. He feels gnawing pain that never goes away. He finds no relief or rest. At first, he complains about the terrible things that have happened to him. But eventually, in verses 20-23, he speaks directly to God. 

He pours out his heart to God, and there is no answer. Job takes off the gloves and he is real before God. Job accuses God of slapping him around for no reason. The reader of Job has seen the scenes in heaven between God and the Adversary (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6) but Job is unaware of all that has happened. Because of his worldview, Job believes that all of the suffering he is enduring has been sent by God. Job’s words become harsh. He calls God out for dragging him through the mud. He blames God for the pain he is experiencing – both the physical and the emotional. Job does not understand the “why” behind his suffering, and in a place of deep sorrow and lament, he minces no words. Job says exactly what he feels. 
Job has entered what is known as the “Dark Night of the Soul.”  For centuries devout Christians have written about the experience of hopelessness and spiritual crisis. Being a follower of Jesus does not remove you from the suffering of life, but you have the benefit of knowing truth that Job did not realize. When you suffer and struggle to hold onto hope, there are some things you should remember and action you should take. 

1.When you find yourself in the darkness, remember what you learned in the light. Let the Spirit and the Word remind you of God’s eternal truth. For example, when you wonder about the love and presence of God, you might turn our attention to the words written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ diedfor us. Romans 5:8 

Remember the promise of Jesus given to his followers as he anticipated his death on the cross. 

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. John 14:16-19

2.Like Job, you are invited to be honest before God. Do not be afraid of asking the hard questions. Sit in silence and solitude with God and then look for how he might be speaking to you not only in that moment, but throughout the day.

3.Refuse to isolate. God will meet you through his people. Come to church even when it is difficult. You will be encouraged by the worship of God even when you can’t sing the words or give voice to the prayers. 

Verse 28 reveals that Job has not given up on God. He is still clinging to the truth and he does what he knows to do. He cries out for help. He weeps and waits to hear from God. 

Phillip Yancey, author of Disappointment with God, an insightful book addressing the questions of human suffering, says that pain narrows your focus so that you only see yourself. Remind one another (and in reminding one another, you will remind yourself) to turn your attention to what you know to be true. God is with you. God revealed his love to you through Jesus. Your willingness to be honest before God is an indication of your trust in him. God will meet you in your doubt. You will be comforted and find his peace.

In times of suffering, which one of the steps listed in this guide are the most challenging for you to implement? Is there another spiritual practice that you have found to be helpful? In times of personal struggle, what significance do you place on the presence and encouragement of other people? How available are you to offer support and encouragement to others? Describe how mutual encouragement works in the lives of a community of faith. 

First United Methodist Church 307 Flint Avenue Albany, Georgia 31701
First United Methodist Church |