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words to live by

By Michael Farbstein
August 21, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE ​to read today’s passages.

Job 1:1-3:26
1 Corinthians 14:1-17
Psalm 37:12-29
Proverbs 21:25-26

We love stories of overcoming adversity. In sports. In movies. In history. I think we enjoy them because the adversity is usually for a noble cause, and because, in the midst of it all, we have an abiding sense that all will turn out well in the end.  We yearn for that ending, and no story seems complete without a resolution that confirms our hope.

But if you are like me, it is much harder to keep that perspective in my day to day life. Our battles are not so immediate nor so life threatening. They are the battles of moment by moment life: keeping our commitments to God, to family, and to good works amidst the allure of self-centeredness. The temptation is not to give up, but to give in to distraction and apathy.  I am not in a life or death situation; I am in a life or passivity struggle. In the world if which I live, the life of faith often takes work, as the questions are many, and the pursuit of an authentic faith requires perseverance of every sort.

In our reading for today, Job won this battle at the outset. It was said of Job; “he feared God and shunned evil.” [Job 1:1]. Even when his life was full of success and comfort, his perspective was larger than his circumstances. He prayed for his children as the feasted, always hopeful of their righteousness. [Job 1:5] His perspective was rooted in a deep sense that God is to be remembered and trusted, no matter the circumstances.

The devil wanted Job to curse God, and challenged Job’s faith to the core by unimaginable suffering and loss. Yet, Job’s perspective never changed. In the fabric of his being, Job understood that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” [Job 1:21]

These were not cheap words that he uttered, but a line he refused to cross even in the utterly dark days that came in Chapters 2 and 3. Job cursed his own existence and his extreme suffering. He expressed fear and a lack of understanding about how God works; but he never blamed God.  

This kind of faith is a mystery, but it is true. For the same reason we resonate with the triumph of good over evil, so we know that God is to be trusted. The challenge is to take this truth into our day to day choices. In the face of it all, Job worshipped and trusted God. These are words to live by. 

To memorize:

Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

— Psalm 37:18

Prayer to start with: God, I take the challenge today. I will choose to see my blessings for what they are and worship you through the day. I will not understand everything - pain, suffering, hopelessness - but I will choose to praise you in the valley. Amen.