Grace Notes 2021-09-08
I recently finished rereading the book of Job (pronounced Jobe), and got more out of it this time around than anytime I can remember. I read through this book at least once a year. And why it was so poignant and informative this time I can only guess. Certainly the difficult times many of are experiencing may have something to do with it. And no doubt it was the Holy Spirit’s work to capture my attention, focus, and the ability to make connections.
Before continuing my train of thought, let me hasten to draw a general principle. It pays to keep plugging away in reading and meditating on Scripture. Of course it is frustrating, but some of that angst can be the result of the misguided notion that learning should come easy. It seldom does. Like a thousand piece puzzle, patience and diligence pay off in the end. When it comes to learning what is taught by God’s Word, we never finish the puzzle! But in time we are rewarded with a greater sense of the contours, form, and magnificent beauty of the holy mysteries, and the fulfillment of communion with God.
In this round’s reading of Job, I concentrated on the nature of Job’s lament and the glib answers provided by his friends. Although it can be read that way, I don’t think Job is protesting his total innocence, as though he were perfect. He does know himself be righteous in the sense that we too would recognize it. He loves, trusts, and fears God, and this results a godly life. And yet Job recognizes some who don’t even pretend to fear God often have a life of ease, while he (and others) can have near insurmountable suffering.
The problem with his friends’ answers was not that they did not contain elements of truth. But they were simplistic and assume no room for legitimate doubt and questioning. Yes, in the end Job needs to be humbled and told to trust even in the face of true perplexities. But Job’s friends were more severely reprimanded by God for their most unhelpful counsel!
Since You Asked…
What good purpose is there in signing oneself (making the sign of the cross with the hand over one’s head and breast)?
This gesture’s main purpose is to remind us of our baptism where the sign of the cross was first made on our foreheads. The cross is a powerful symbol which reminds us of the depths of God’s love for us – He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. In Holy Baptism we have been joined to Christ. Every time we sign ourselves we declare that we belong to Christ and that we desire to live for Him. We give visible expression that we serve the One, True God who has revealed Himself to us in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.