A message for the week starting on Sunday 10 October 2021
Lectionary Week: Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: Job 23: 1-9, 16-17, Psalm 22:1-15, Hebrews 4: 12-16, Mark 10: 17-31
Dealing with Deep Issues of the Heart
Focus Text: Job 23: 1- 17
The focus scripture tells of a very difficult time in Job’s life. Without recounting all the details, it falls in as part of a long journey of discourse with his friends about his plight and highlights the assumptions and accusations they throw at Job: that he had probably been sinning and not been walking in obedience to God, so this is his punishment; he had turned a blind eye to the needy; he loved money and valued his possessions more than God and therefore his prayers were not being heard anymore, etc.
Job responds and reveals that all that they are suggesting and saying to him is not the reason. There is something deeper contained in his heart, which he cannot put a finger to. A deep cry, and deep pain of being misunderstood. Job tries to communicate how he feels about his plight, but his friends are clearly not at that level of understanding. He is in a place where it’s even hard to feel God’s presence. But Job still knows and acknowledges that God is his Judge and will acquit him.
In the faith community, deep in the heart and lives of people, there are deep-seated issues which bring pain, fear, the feeling of loneliness, which becomes worse when one feels misunderstood as well. At the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, it was largely seen as the punishment for sin and therefore those infected were ‘deserving’ of it.
I’d like to draw your attention to what goes on inside a person’s mind and this is true of countless brothers and sisters enduring harsh circumstances of neglect, abuse, violation, hunger, etc. Questions like, “What have I done wrong, why has this happened to me?” overpower a person. One issue highlighted later in the story of Job, is that you can never understand why situations like these happen and yet God’s sees, knows and understands the whole truth. It can never quite fully be explained by the person enduring it, and yet they know deep within that they have not done anything wrong to deserve it. Even if they tried to explain, how many would actually believe them? Job’s friends were of the opinion that the secret sins he had been hiding from them, were finally catching up with him.
While Job’s story has a happy ending, this scripture highlights the deep internal wars that many people experience during a difficult time. It shows the endless questions which have no answers that keep turning in the mind. It reveals strained relationships and having to approach others with a forgiving heart. It is such a tall order for the individual. Yet God does come through at the end, as He showed in Job.
To think about: Challenging situations happen to us all. With each unique situation, very deep reflections take place in our minds and hearts, many without answers. Think of how you approach a person going through such a phase in life and how you can support them.
Written by: Ms M. Moyo, lead Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator