Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2017

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.  (Job 1:1,2).

What readers often take away from the book of Job is how utterly unfair Job’s trials seemed to be. Here was a man who was so righteous that he even offered sacrifices to God for his children in case they had been sinning. Things were going along really well for Job and his wife before Satan came along and tried to make him deny God.

God allowed Satan to take away Job’s ten children, his livestock, and his servants. Job did not sin but replied, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Next, Satan asked God if he could ruin Job’s health. God gave Satan permission to afflict Job’s body, but to spare his life. Satan smote Job with sore boils from his head to his feet. We are not sure what disease caused these boils but they were so painful that Job wished he had never been born (Job 3:1).

After Satan’s attack we find Job sitting by the ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd. This was a fragment of a piece of pottery that was to scrape away the pus and perhaps the worms or maggots that got on Job’s body. Besides possibly sterilizing the potsherd in the fire, the ashes were there for Job to sprinkle over his head as people did in his day when they were in mourning.

This is how Job’s wife finds him when she comes to talk to him. We are usually shocked at what she says and she has been castigated for it by historians and theologians ever since. After her husband became terribly sick and covered with boils, Job’s wife says, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).

Why would Job’s wife even say such a thing to Job?

Let’s take a moment and think about the story from her perspective. First of all, let us remember that those ten children who died were her children too. Perhaps Job’s wife was in such despair after seeing all of her children die that she wondered if God was taking away His blessings for some reason. She was also aware of the deaths of all of their servants and livestock.

The Bible only records this one conversation between Job and his wife. We do not know much else except that she stayed with him all through his trials. She must have served him and nursed him as best as she could. Job’s wife had no servants to help her wash and clean her husband’s puss and worm infested garments. How much time would she have had to spend patching them up or finding new ones?

Maybe it was hard for Job’s wife to see her husband in so much pain. It must also have been painful for her while her husband spent his whole time by the fire. She had probably been used to all of the daily acts of love between a husband and wife. Now her life would be the opposite. She would no longer be able to be comforted by her husband but must work hard to help him in this dire time of need.

It is also possible that Job’s wife was merely responding to what she overheard her husband saying as she brought him food or gave him other care. Throughout chapter 3, Job lamented, “Let the day perish on which I was to be born, and the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’ May that day be darkness; let not God above care for it, nor light shine on it. ….. Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? Why is light given to him who suffers, and life to the bitter of soul, who longs for death, but there is none.” (Job 3:3,4,11,20,21).

Though her response was discouraging at the very least, Job’s wife may have wished that God would take him home and release him from his suffering. I recall a friend who had cancer whose pain was so awful that he prayed that God would just take him home. His wife admitted later that she prayed that God would give her husband release from pain one way or another. Surely anyone who has watched a loved one suffer so much can understand Job’s wife’s agony.

How did Job respond to his wife’s counsel? “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).

Job said that his wife speaks “as” one of the foolish women speaks. He didn’t say she was a foolish woman. He remonstrated with her. Then he implored her to accept whatever came from God. We are not told if she repented at this time, but we do know that she stuck with her husband. She did not go somewhere else in spite of the fact that not only had their children been killed, but also all of their donkeys, oxen, sheep, and camels. Their livelihood was gone. Job was in no shape to go out and work. And he couldn’t get any help because all of his servants had been captured or killed as well. Job’s wife went from being very rich to very poor with no prospects. In our day, this would be a good time to run home to mother!

I do not know what it is like to lose a child, let alone all of my children at once. And Job’s wife didn’t even know why. Perhaps we should give her the benefit of the doubt as a frail human being. Imagine day after day watching your husband suffer so much. Anyone who has watched a loved one suffer will understand how Job’s wife felt. And imagine the helpless feeling because she did not know why God was allowing this.

Nowhere in the story does God tell Job what is going on. Job never finds out that Satan was involved. Job never finds out why God allowed all of this to happen to him. Why would we think Job’s wife should know any more than her husband does?

Not only was her husband ill and needing her sustenance, but now three guests show up and later a fourth man will show up. They stay for many days. Customs at the time demanded that Job’s wife feed and show hospitality to them.

Job’s three friends come to visit him and “console” him. They find all kinds of reasons for why Job is being tried. The friends mostly tell Job that he is suffering because he sinned. Bildad the Shuhite says for example, “Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert what is right? If your sons sinned against Him, then He delivered them into the power of their transgression. … If you are pure and upright, surely now He would rouse Himself for you and restore your righteous estate.” (Job 8:3-6)

Wow! With friends like these who needs enemies? Truly Job’s wife had a tremendous job on her hands to comfort her husband in spite of his companions.

Daily she would have spent many hours just making food and taking it to them. Where did she find ingredients for the food? She would have had to gather the grain and thresh it herself. Even if they had stored grain, Job’s wife would have had to pound it herself and prepare it for baking. She would have gathered the wood for the fire and maintained it herself. No mention is made of any other neighbors or help coming for her. The only other people we hear about are Job’s three friends and they mostly sat around talking to her husband.

Did Job’s wife listen in to their conversations? Did she wait to hear the answers to her husband’s questions? As she served him did Job’s wife come to acknowledge her sin and turn and give honor to God?

Job’s wife was a witness to Job’s growth in knowledge and sanctification. At one point in his conversation with his friends Job confessed, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)

Eventually Job realized the truth. Job finally acknowledged that Jehovah is Lord of all. Job was willing to submit to God. He praised God and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you; Therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).

Job passed the test. His wife was with him. We hope that she followed his lead and humbly repented to God.

In any event, God exonerated Job and told the friends that they were wrong. Then God blessed Job and his wife. He gave them ten more children and twice as many belongings as before. Job gave all of his children, sons and daughters, an equal inheritance. His daughters were considered the fairest in the land. Surely their mother had something to do with that.

 

Read Full Post »

OUR PEOPLE: The remarkable story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army

William Booth started out as a traveling evangelist. The Booths were very poor and seldom had a home of their own. Then one night as William was coming home from a meeting he passed the doors of a gin palace in East London. This was the part of London where unfortunate people lived – alcoholics, criminals, and prostitutes. William had been preaching in places like West London, where upper class people lived – people who could put enough money in the hat when it was passed to put at least some food on the table at the Booth household.

 

On that fateful night, William thought he heard an urgent voice speaking to him, a voice that would ask a great sacrifice from him and Catherine. The voice asked, “Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labours?” William knew the answer, “These will be our people.”

Catherine believed that they should answer this call, though she knew that they would never be able to ask the East-Enders for money as they had been able to before from their “respectable” audiences. This was huge step of faith and William and Catherine trusted the Lord to take care of them.

For William and Catherine their work was all about the glory of God and the salvation of souls. And so the little Whitechapel mission would turn into the Christian Mission and eventually into what we know today as the Salvation Army.

The video: OUR PEOPLE: The remarkable story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army, tells the story of how William and Catherine Booth took God’s love to the poor. This is a very inspirational documentary.

It is not a live action production. The story is told using over 500 images and interviews with 11 historians and storytellers. The many beautiful pictures of 1800’s London makes the story very interesting. There is beautiful background music of familiar hymns. There are live interviews with two of the Booths’ grandchildren.

I really appreciated the account of the now forgotten social work of William and Catherine Booth. Today ‘human trafficking’ is much talked about. Many do not realize however that girls as young as 13 years of age were being trafficked in Britain in the 1800’s because the age of consent was 13. The Booths and Catherine’s friend Josephine Butler worked for many years to get the age of consent raised even to 16. William and Catherine rescued 100’s of young girls and women out of prostitution. They opened homes for them and helped them get other employment. The ‘Army’ was to make caring for the poor their main ministry even to this day.

There is so much more and I think you will really be blessed when you watch this video. It is easily found on the internet. It also features some bonus material – interviews with historians.

Remember how much good those cheerful bell ringers have done over the last 150 years when you see them next Christmas!!!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Nearly 500 years ago, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This began the start of the period in Church History known as the Reformation.

In honor of this anniversary, many books on Luther and Calvin and other Reformers are hitting the bookshelves this year. But did you know that these great men had wives? Yes, and both men would thank God publicly for the blessing of their wives. The video I recommend this week will tell the story of one of the humblest, yet loved women of the Reformation.

This month is Women in History month. Many women have come to love the story of Katherine Luther as an example of courage and the meaning of the sacredness of everyday living. I highly recommend a video that documents Katie’s life from early childhood until her untimely death. The video – “The Morning Star of Wittenberg: The Life of Katie Luther” – was produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is distributed by Vision Video. (easily found on the internet)

It was often thought that only vocations in the church were sacred – being a priest or a nun. But Martin and Katie became heroes of everyday people when they showed the holiness and godliness of a beautiful, loving marriage and home life. Today many pastor’s wives model their lives after Katherine von Bora Luther.

 

 

This video features the insights of Dr. Kirsi Stjerna, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and author of “Women and the Reformation”.

 

 

German theologian Dr. Martin Treu, Curator of the Luther Museum in Wittenberg, gives us interesting historical background to the places and events in Katie’s life. The production is beautifully done and the story leaves you wanting to hear more about Katherine. I would suggest Dr. Stjerna’ book.

 

Katherine contributed much to her husband’s ministry.  She certainly helped with his understanding of marriage, love, and family life. By doing this, she contributed much to the spread of the Gospel. She modeled the ideal Christian woman.  By being a Proverbs 31 woman, her husband’s ministry was expanded further. Because she could manage everything on the home front, including the Black Cloister, Luther was able to be away on long journeys, preaching and teaching, knowing that he could come home to a restful, well-ordered, spiritually invigorating home – even one that had some of the best beer around!!

 

Katherine loved Christ. She lived her life to the fullest. She showed us how to live the Christian life in our marriages, families, and communities. It takes a lot of courage to face the daily mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and mending. As we contemplate on the life of Katherine von Bora Luther, I hope it will give us renewed strength to find joy in whatever calling God has given us.

 

Read Full Post »

This week I would like to recommend a beautifully done video:

“Francis & Clare of Assisi”

It is an ‘Oriente Occidente Production’ distributed by Vision Video.  You can find it easily on the web. It is 30 minutes long.

This video is not a re-enactment. Instead it relates the story of Francis and Clare of Assisi through narration. The photography is beautiful! The producers take you to the places that were frequented by Clare and Francis. The music is original and fits the medieval times. I especially loved all of the visuals of the medieval art. You will find it warm and inspiring.

 

 

Francis of Assisi turned away a wealthy inheritance and went to live among the poor. He took a vow of poverty. He also strove to reform the church. He and his followers spent their time caring for the poor and sick. He believed that he was following more faithfully in Jesus’ footsteps. A time-honored saying that is attributed to him goes, “Preach the Gospel always, and if you must, use words.” His message of reform spread all across Europe and the East. St. Francis is still honored today for his example of love and care to even the lowest, most forgotten people.

Clare was a beautiful Italian woman born into nobility. Even as a young girl she was known for her piety and her kindness. A story is told that she used to hide the food from her plate so that she could later give it to the poor.

When she was sixteen years old, Clare heard Francis of Assisi preach. She had been promised in marriage to a wealthy man but she refused a life of ease. Instead she put on sackcloth and went out to care for the poor.

Other women began to follow Clare including her mother and sister. Francis of Assisi built a little cloister for them near the Church of St. Damian. In 1215 Clare founded the order of Poor Clares. They devoted themselves to prayer, penance and service. The Poor Clares also took vows of poverty and renounced property ownership.

Clare never left her cloister but did maintain her friendship with Francis of Assisi and many others. In spite of being bedridden for the last twenty-eight years of her life (probably due to severe fasting) her influence was great. She and the group of women serving with her were responsible for extending the reforms started by St. Francis to the church and to society.

The Poor Clares spread beyond Assisi to other towns in Italy, England, France, Germany, and Bohemia. Today the Poor Clares number over 20,000 sisters in 70 countries.

Clare died on August 11, 1253 of natural causes. In 1255 Clare was canonized as St. Clare by Pope Alexander IV.

Read Full Post »