Reflections: Thursday, The Fifth Week of Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Job 6:1-13

Daily Lectionary: Job 6:1-13, John 3:1-21 

“Have I any help in me, when resource is driven from me?” (Job 6:13)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Human suffering: It’s universal. It’s agonizing to bear, and heartbreaking to witness. It’s caused by wickedness in the world. It’s caused by our own foolishness. It’s sent by God.

Wait! What did you just say? Surely God wants us to be happy! Surely, I haven’t deserved to have my parents divorce, to lose my friend to lymphoma, to be laid off from my job that I worked hard at.  What you’re facing is the problem of suffering, and you’re hardly the first person to be there.

Not that you can think away suffering, but consider these three truths which we know: God is good. God is omnipotent. There is profound evil in the world.

When we suffer, we venture into the land of theodicy, which means “to justify God.”  There, we wrestle with these three truths. We know God is good and He can do all things. So, what does it mean that so much evil is in the world and on our doorstep? If we dwell in theodicy too long, our sinful reason starts with doubts: Maybe God isn’t really good. Maybe He’s not really omnipotent. Maybe His Baptismal promise to never leave or forsake me isn’t so powerful after all.  Suffering is a dark place to be. Theodicy is even darker.

Our refuge in suffering is not our own minds. It’s not in being crushed, like Job prayed for. God’s answer to our suffering is found in Jesus Christ alone. Listen to how St. Peter explains it, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet. 4:12-13) This is not theodicy; it is theology of the cross.

Your Baptism is not an immunity potion against worldly trouble. It is a promise that you are joined to Jesus Christ—in His suffering now and in His exaltation at the last.  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  So to answer Job’s complaints, “What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?”  It is to look to your crucified and risen Savior, who ascended into heaven and rules all things for your good…even the suffering which He wisely sends to you. You do not bear it on your own, but as His own. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death,

that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. Amen. (Psalm 9:13-14)

-Pastor Michael A. Miller is Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR.,

Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.