“And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.”Job 1:5 (ESV)
In times of uncertainty, many people turn to God in order to seek guidance and comfort. Job was a faithful man as described in his account within Scripture. As I read the beginning of his account in my devotions Job 1:5 struck me. Job was so faithful and concerned for his children and the possibility that during their celebrations they may have sinned that he would consecrate and offer sacrifices for them to cover the possibility of sin. As Christians, the age of offering animal sacrifices is something from which we are far removed. Yet the reality for each of us is that we have a God who offered Himself for us in order that all our sins, known or unknown would be covered.
We are washed and renewed in the Baptismal waters and God redeems us of all sin and shame. This is not something, however, we should take for granted. The sad reality of Job and his family is, though he was faithful, we don’t truly know how faithful his children were. The same is true for many parents and how great a tragedy it is for faithful parents to see their children and their grandchildren living outside of the faith of Jesus Christ. My prayer is this season of uncertainty not only creates and increase of prayer, but also an increase in faithful witness.
There are many that might feel that this is a punishment from God and are angry that God would allow this to happen. Now, God may or may not use plagues like Covid-19 as a source of judgment, to state otherwise would not be honest. Yet, one can not state that this is truly God’s judgment with full certainty, i.e. to say that this is caused by any specific or group of people, is neither helpful nor is it a faithful use of the Word. We are all fallen in sin and fall short of the glory of God. We all deserve God’s judgment. That is a fact, no matter how uncomfortable that makes some people. It would be better to see how God’s mercy is being extended. Yes, God’s mercy is here. It is now. In the midst of this time, we can see God’s mercy if we are willing to humble ourselves. In times of great strife and struggle, I have been carried through by my faith alone when there was little else which to cling. To follow God does not mean that we will not suffer, but in our suffering we are giving grace that carries us through.
One of the things that has been of greatest difficulty in this time is having to worship virtually instead of face to face. Unable to greet and to pray together in a single space is an adjustment and a loss. There are some congregations in our nation that are resisting this, but I think they miss the point. The Church is not limited to a building or one charismatic preacher, but it is the people believing in Christ. Our doors have been opened in a way that has not been seen in a great while and in a way that is unique to our period of history. Because of the stay-at-home orders that the majority of our nation is under we have more of the Word being sent out into the world by pastors from all corners of the United States that are broadcasting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. I have been so blessed by the writings of many pastors putting words of encouragement out there that they normally wouldn’t. I have also been inspired to step up in my own presence.
God uses such times as these for His Word to be carried out. Job cried out in his suffering. The friends of Job pressured him to confess a sin that he did not feel he had committed because the suffering must have been because of his actions. What we find through Job, however, is suffering happens. The devil is out there. He creates disease and war. He utilizes selfish desires in the hearts of human beings to perpetuate dissent and strife. So, it is in times like these it is an opportunity to pause and take a breath. As faithful followers of Christ, we can not offer a sacrifice for the sins of those whom we love but we are able to pray for them. We can pray for God’s mercy to fall upon them and the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts and draw them to Christ. We can pray for those suffering. We can witness in our prayers online, over the phone, or in our writings to those we know that are struggling. We can reconnect with those with whom we have lost touch. Christ is our covering and Christ is our Hope. Let that be what is reflected in you this season and may that shine out in your witness to others.