Let Go of “The Blame Game”


S (Scripture): Job 30:16 “And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17 The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
18 With violence he seizes my garment; he grasps me by the collar of my tunic.  
19 He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes.
20 I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me.
21 You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me.
22 You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
23 I know that you will bring me to death,
and to the house appointed for all living.
24 “Surely one does not turn against the needy, when in disaster they cry for help.
25 Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 But when I looked for good, evil came;
and when I waited for light, darkness came.

O (Observation):  Job has suffered many devastating losses: his livestock, his property, his children, his spouse: all killed or destroyed.  He’s trying to make sense of all of this. He’s trying to make sense of why so many bad things are happening in his life. He cannot understand it. 

Job is gathered with his friends around him.  They try to convince him that he’s done something wrong…that he somehow deserves the punishment he’s getting.   And by their line of thinking, only when we do something wrong are we punished.  SOMETHING must have been done to bring on the suffering.  

Yet we – the readers – know that the devil is playing games with Job.  The devil wishes to convince God that even the most upright person can and will turn against God…if given the right “motivation.”  God allows this experiment…and even though Job is angry with God, Job has not denounced his faith.   Though Job is quite perturbed and confused.  

A (Application):  Cancer sucks.  Alzheimer’s sucks.   We live in a broken world.   We get angry at God, doctors, science, ourselves…you name it, we’ve blamed it.  At some point in our lives, we cry out in anger and frustration and want to point to something or someone and blame them for our problems, so that we can diagnose the issue, and correct or eliminate the problem!

Isolate it.   Blame it.   Get angry at it.  Punch it.  Hurt it.  Fix it.  Cure it.  Heal it.  We want to solve the issue.  

Or, if we blame ourselves, we may hurt ourselves…or worse…

We cannot understand why things happen the way they do…for better or for worse.

But we also have a God who redeems.  Even the worst circumstances – even though it may not make sense, ever – God can still redeem…if not in this life, then in the next.   Don’t play the blame game.  No one wins that game.  Instead, let others in.  Let them love you.  Let them bring you hope.  
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If you are in a difficult situation (or someone you know is), please reach out to folks who are trained to help:  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  
1-800-273-8255; 

or, the Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741-741.  

P (Prayer): Lord, save us.  Save us all.  Amen. 

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Bearing One Another’s Burdens

 S (Scripture): Psalm 88:13 As for me, I cry out to you, O Lord; in the morning my prayer confronts you.

88:14 O Lord, why do you reject me,
and pay no attention to me?
88:15 I am oppressed and have been on the verge of death since my youth. I have been subjected to your horrors and am numb with pain.

O (Observation): Wow!  This author lets out all the stops and opens up!   This level of anger and frustration TOWARDS GOD is rarely heard these days. But then, maybe this text is a witness to us that we can get frustrated towards God, and maybe even doubt God, and still, God loves us and sees us through.  

God is bigger than our anger.  God is bigger than our frustrations. 

A (Application):  I’ve visited with church members recently who are having a tough time with physical health.  I see how we can all reach points of frustration and doubt.   These members I’ve visited have a solid faith.   But sometimes, the struggles can be overwhelming.  

With this psalm today, I think we are given permission to be ticked off at God, even though God didn’t cause the illness.  I think we are given permission to waver in our faith.   

And what makes up for that anger and doubt?  God’s grace poured out through the body of Christ. 

We cannot hold our own selves up at times.  We doubt at times.  We get frustrated at times.  And yet, God is bigger than our frustrations and doubts and fears.   And God gives us one another to lean on.   

I’m so glad Jesus lifts you and me, but  on the days we don’t feel lifted, raise a fist in frustration and lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ who will walk through the valley with you.  Perhaps sharing your burden will give you hope.   

What burdens are you bearing?   Can you come alongside someone who is suffering, and bear their burdens with them?

P (Prayer):  Lord, we give you thanks for being able to bear our frustrations and still pour out grace on us all.  Amen. 

How Can This Be?

 

 S (Scripture): Job 13:13 “Refrain from talking with me so that I may speak;
then let come to me what may.
13:14 Why do I put myself in peril,
and take my life in my hands?
13:15 Even if he slays me, I will hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face!
13:16 Moreover, this will become my deliverance,
for no godless person would come before him.”

O (Observation): Job is so sure of his innocence, that he is willing to risk his own life by standing before God to argue his own case.   And he knows that if he is guilty, he will be punished – even to death.  

He resents what his friends have told him.   They have essentially told Job that he must have done something wrong for God to have brought such devastation on him.   Job refuses to believe this, and wants to get to the bottom of this whole thing.  

Job’s boldness is also intriguing.   How dare anyone declare their innocence, let alone proclaiming that one would stand before God!   That’s a very bold move, indeed!

A (Application): I guess my upbringing has always caused me to fear standing before the Lord, but also to rejoice in such a thing.   But in neither case (in fear or rejoicing) did I ever think myself innocent.   

I wonder if that posture is Job’s way of saying, “I want some answers!  And I want them, now!  Damned if I’ll be innocently persecuted!”

Seldom have I felt that kind of righteous anger.  Almost shaking my fist at God kind of frustration.    So I tap into the larger suffering in the world: hunger, lack of health care, slavery, sex trafficking.   Then…I shake my fist and wonder… How can this be?

Sometimes solutions escape us.   So we trust in the Lord…and like we did during Easter Vigil, we look back at light in the midst of darkness; God bringing hope, where there is none.  

And we sit and we wait…and in the meantime, we seek God’s presence in other ways.  And who knows…maybe we become part of the solution.  

In what ways has God called you to action?  Where have you seen God’s presence lately?

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to know that we are one with you.  In this one-ness, we have your Authority to make a difference in this world and the ability to stand before you.  Make us strong when we are weak.  Help us to trust in your Power.  Amen.