Week 4 Day 1
Sunday (Job 1:1-5)
Job’s Good Life
Horatio Gates Spafford was a prominent lawyer, a senior partner in a large and thriving law firm. Spafford invested in real estate north of an expanding Chicago in the spring of 1871. When the Great Fire of Chicago reduced the city to ashes in October of that same year, it also destroyed most of Spafford’s sizable investment.
Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a holiday somewhere in Europe, and chose England knowing that his friend D. L. Moody would be preaching there in the fall. He was delayed because of business, so he sent his family ahead: his wife and their four children, daughters eleven-year-old Tanetta, nine-year-old Elizabeth “Bessie”, five-year-old Margaret Lee, and two-year-old Anna “Annie”.
On November 22, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship Ville du Havre, their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and 226 people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford’s daughters. Anna Spafford survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Spafford beginning “Saved alone.” Spafford then sailed to England, going over the location of his daughters’ deaths. According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote “It Is Well with My Soul” on this journey.
Following the sinking of the Ville du Havre, Anna gave birth to three more children. On February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford (born March 24, 1878) and Grace Spafford (born January 18, 1881).
Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment. In response, the Spaffords formed their own Messianic sect, dubbed “the Overcomers” by American press.
In August 1881, the Spaffords set out for Jerusalem as a party of thirteen adults and three children and set up the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work amongst the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities.
During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations of the eastern front by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures.
Dear Lord, Life has a way of “just happening” in this fallen world. May I remember that it’s not what happens that defines people, it is how they respond. May I respond by turning to You for the the best way forward – the way that brings glory to you. Amen.
Week 4 Day 2
Monday (Job 1:6-12)
Satan’s Accusation of Job
The director of the national agriculture department was meeting with top advisers and staff when a tax department official entered the room and sat to one side. The stated purpose of the unexpected visit was that his agency had received reports that a major rice farmer was falsifying data.
The official specifically named one very successful rice farmer. This caused some consternation as that particular farm had been promoted as a role model for others and if the charges were true it would be very embarrassing for the director.
The rice farmer was not only producing the usual types of rice but had discovered ways to produce some unusual types that were much less common and far more valuable. The farmer was also very generous to employees and supported causes which served the needy.
The tax official accused the agricultural director of favoritism due to a personal friendship and use of the rice farmer as a role model – but the director knew the owner of the farm well and was certain of the owner’s personal integrity.
The director also knew that the tax official had a history of believing untrue accusations from competitors, that in a large farming operation it was always possible that an employee might have altered numbers – unknown to the owner, but that such an investigation would prove costly to the owner.
The director reluctantly told the tax official that the department would not attempt to block the investigation of the business but if there was any effort to directly attack the owner the agriculture department would request the president’s intervention.
There are times in most people’s lives when misunderstandings or false accusations result in inconveniences and worse. The biases and/or motivations of the accusers, and sometimes those of the investigators, may not suggest a fair hearing. In such cases it is best to have an advocate with the power to defend you.
Dear Lord, When we are falsely accused it is Jesus Who stands up for us. Thank You that we are always certain that Your justice is perfect and Your knowledge is complete. When we confess our sins we are never telling You anything that You do not already know. Amen. dmc2015
Week 4 Day 3
Tuesday (Job 1:13-22)
Job’s Integrity in Adversity
Just as the investigation of the rice farmer was to begin a terrible tsunami blew across the peninsula destroying the rice growing and processing facilities, and killing most of the workers in the fields and buildings. The farmer and spouse were away from the property, meeting with their attorney, but all of the children were home and were killed.
The farmer was in shock, hurried home in hopes that things were not as bad as the early reports and that maybe some of the people -presumed dead – had actually survived. But the reality on the ground was even worse than the news reports. Heartsick and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the losses the farmer collapsed on the floor, pleading to God for strength, and wondering how to go on.
There are times in our lives when all of the small dark clouds of trouble look like one looming storm; arguments with friends, misunderstandings with family, criticism from bosses or teachers, a health problem, a car problem, and too much month left after all of the money has been spent.
Rarely are things as bad as that faced by Job, or the farmer in our story, but always the answer is to trust God for comfort, patience, peace, strength, and wisdom. Loss and suffering are natural events in this fallen world, that God holds-back some of it is an undeserved blessing. Freedom from trouble is only found in the promised new heaven and earth, not in this broken and dying earth.
Dear Lord, No matter what comes to Your children it can never be too much to bear because You live in us, You carry us through, and You will bring us home. May we never doubt You. Amen. dmc2015
Week 4 Day 4
Wednesday (Job 2:1-10)
Satan’s Additional Charge, Job’s Integrity in Suffering
When the farmer finally arose and sat to eat lunch the mail was delivered. The letter from his physician contained another blow – the tests from the skin patches on his ears, nose, head, and neck were Melanoma (skin cancer) and it appeared to have metasticized (spread to other parts of his body).
The farmer’s head bowed and his spouse read the letter then cried-out “Why is God doing this to us?” Like Job the farmer replied “We must accept whatever comes and never blame God.” then quoted from the movie I Am Legend “God didn’t do this, we did”, adding, this is because of the Fall and the continued rebellion of humankind.”
The farmer’s children and workers were gone, the entire business destroyed, the threat of investigation loomed, and now a life-threatening disease – yet not a wrong word was spoken of God.
That big dark cloud in life can sometimes include a wild thunderstorm or even a tornado – yet the Lord promises us that He is with us in the storms of life – we must cling to Him and press-away the lies of the enemy.
Dear Lord, right now I may feel as if I am dying-inside due to some event in my life – one over which I have no control – please carry me for a while. I need Your strength, I need Your comfort, and I need Your peace. Amen. dmc2015
Week 4 Day 5
Thursday (Job 2:11-13)
The Arrival of Job’s Friends
When the farmer’s friends heard of the terrible tragedies they came to visit – they were shocked by the physical devastation of the storm – and more shocked by the hollow stare, then gaunt face, and the red splotches about the face, neck, and head. They were speechless.
Unlike Job’s friends they only refrained from speaking for seven hours on the first day – the nurse had warned that it would not be helpful to speak until the farmer was ready; however, in their fast-paced lives those seven hours of silence felt like an ancient week.
Different people react differently to tragedy, but all need a time of stillness to recover their sense of balance and perspective – when we try to rush that process we’re not being helpful.
As a hospice chaplain there have often been times, especially just before a patient dies – and sometimes immediately afterward – when loved ones simply need a safe presence for a while, rather than words. In this busy and noisy modern culture that can be challenging – but it’s about them and not us – we owe them the respect of honoring their needs rather than our own.
Dear Lord, life in this fallen world is filled with loss and tragedy, it’s unavoidable and it’s hard. We were not made for this fallen world. Teach us to trust You to be our strength, waiting on You for the right time to move on. Amen. dmc2015
Week 4 Day 6
Friday (Job 3:1-12)
Job’s Wishes That He Was Never Born
When the farmer finally spoke the grief and loss poured out a a jumble of words testifying to a short-sighted vision of a life’s-work obliterated with nothing to show – wishing, as had Job so long before – never to have been born.
The buildings could be rebuilt, the fields repaired and replanted, and more workers hired and trained. Of course the children could not be restored, nor could the dead workers – their stories had ended.
The knowledge that made it all work was not lost, those who had learned from and been encouraged remained, and so the value of learning and opportunities to continue – awaited some healing.
When we hear the frightening words “You have cancer”, or “Your close relative is dying, or has died”, your spouse gives up on your marriage, a respected person chooses poorly and suffers a great fall, your children rebel, your home burns, or a dream of some sort has been crushed it can be hard to see through to the light of hope beyond.
Dear Lord, When this world steps on my heart, fogs my mind, and seems to suck the air out of my lungs – please catch me as I fall into Your safe and loving arms. Keep my heart from bitterness, keep me from making poor choices until the fog clears, and be my strength to endure. Amen. dmc2015
Week 4 Day 7
Saturday (Job 3:13-26)
Job Longs for Death – Wonders Why God Was Keeping Him Alive
The farmer, still grieving, continued to wonder why God would have allowed birth – knowing that such a horrific end awaited – the pain was causing the center of thinking (like Job) to drift from God to the farmer.
The farmer then wondered why God allowed life to continue – the grief was too overwhelming – the disease and treatment so unpleasant – but never paused a moment to ask for His healing.
When troubles come, and persist, it is natural to become confused. Job, and our farmer, should have stopped at the question of why they were still alive – since our sole purpose on earth is to serve God. The right question is always “How may I serve You Lord and how will You equip me to do so?”
Of course we need time to grieve our losses, of course we get confused and forget to ask the Great Healer to heal us to serve, and of course we can lose sight of the future in the enormity of our challenges. We are mere humans.
Jesus is our role model because He never took his heart, mind, soul, or physical activities off the focus of God the Father’s purpose.
Dear Lord, When things are their darkest I need You even more. May my hope be found in any purpose that I can search-out that You have for me. May I set aside my needs and seek to do Your deeds. Amen. dmc2015
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated – http://bible.org
Devotional copyright © 2015 by David M. Colburn. This is associated with the BibleSeven Study –“Genesis 16_9-11. Prepared by David M. Colburn and originally edited for bible.org. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.