Read Psalm 131 to open your time together.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.
This week we transition from pre-exile prophets to the Old Testament’s Wisdom Literature. Like we did 10 weeks ago, we will use this transition time to pause and reflect on how our lifegroups are doing as we journey through the Bible together. Job, our first look at this new section, gives us a great opportunity to take a look at how we view and deal with each other.
Surprisingly, we don’t know that much about Job. We know that he was wealthy and righteous. He lived in Uz, east of Israel. As far as we can tell, this story does not directly involved Israel or Israelites at all.
Right at the beginning of this story, God gives the Accuser permission to take everything from Job. His children, his wealth, and eventually his health. The Accuser is convinced Job will turn on God and curse Him once His many blessings are removed.
The book of Job is mostly comprised of a series of poetic discourses. There is a LOT of talking by Job, and by his friends who come to “comfort” him with their “wisdom” during his time of suffering.
Job raises some very profound theological questions that all of us wrestle with. After we have read of God’s continual covenant faithfulness, of His blessing righteousness and cursing evil, we see what seems to be the opposite here with Job, don’t we?
In fact, you could read Job as sort of the counterbalance to much of the rest of the Old Testament… You find that it was Job’s very faithful righteousness that caused him to be singled out for suffering in the first place.
Job’s story raises the question, “why do bad things happen to good people?” Job himself asks the question “Why, God?” – a question ultimately (and frustratingly) unanswered by God.
To start our discussion, we are going to read Job 3 together. As you work through the chapter (26 verses) Imagine Job is a personal friend of yours. He is going through the most difficult period of his life, losing everything. Imagine that your friend is expressing these feelings to God aloud in your presence. What is going on inside of you as you hear these words? What do you feel as Job cries out in his despair? Does his frankness make you uncomfortable? Do you think it is okay to speak to God this way?
Spend a few minutes talking together about your response to these questions.
When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
Are Job’s friends bad friends? Why?
When they speak, what kinds of things do they assume? What kinds of things do they say?
Imagine for a minute that you are Job. As you sit, listening to the advice of your friends, what must be going through your mind? How do you think you would respond to their words?
How do “church people” today respond to suffering in a similar way to Job’s friends?(think about the shooting at the Pulse night club, or the bombing in Manchester on Monday, which I am watching as I type this!)
Are we good at loving others, or are we bad at it? Where do we have room to grow and change? Who should we be better at loving?
What about our lifegroup? Does your group feel free enough to share openly and emotionally as Job did? How did/would your group respond? How loved and known did/would the sharer feel?
Does our group value theological truth over loving each other, or is it the other way around? What relationship should the two have? Do our theological positions get in the way of our ability to love each other? In what way?
What do you think we are getting right about this? What (in our group) needs to change about this?