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Monday, August 8, 2011

Susie's story is the Job story, from the Jewish bible aka The Old Testament

As some of you know, I've been a member of The Jacob Group, until June, when I left The White Church (First Church of Christ, Congregational, UCC) for The Black Church (Zion First Baptist Church).  The Jacob Group, a men's bible study group at First Church, has been meeting once a week for an hour, since 1981 (I believe it was 1981, maybe it was 1983--would a Jacob brother please correct this historical factoid for me?).  The group reads one chapter a week from the bible, over lunch, for an hour, followed by an intense, funny, enriching discussion of the text or anything else which comes to anyone's mind, either related to the text, or merely associated in that member's mind with the text.

Anyway, we've read the book of Job, in the Jewish bible, three times, I believe.  It's a long and tortuous biblical story of a non-Jewish man, a good and righteous man, who follows all the rules, lives a good life, yet bad things happen to him.  In the prologue to the story, God's fallen angel (perhaps the dark and destructive side of God Himself?), Satan is roaming to and fro across the earth.  He and God argue about the faithfulness, to God, of God's "servant, Job."  Satan argues that Job is a pious, God-loving, man, pure and simply because God gives Job lots of the good "stuff" of life--a wife, children, money, property.  "If you let me take it away from Job," Satan trash-talks God, "he'll curse you, God, and lay down to die."

Until this book of the Jewish bible, the basic theology of the stories was to re-assure readers of faith that their faithfulness and sacrifices to God would always be rewarded with material well-being.  But the writers must have been troubled by the easily-observed facts that "the good die young" and wrongdoers often prosper.  So, the authors wondered, can we imagine a character, say a man called, simply enough, Job, who is a good and righteous man, who falls upon very hard times, yet retains his humilty and faith?  And what a story it is.  I won't ruin the ending of the middle part of the story, nor the ending itself, which is controversial in its own right.

Job's story comes to mind because of Susie's story.

Susie is, basically, a good and upright person.  She obeys the laws, acts in socially appropriate ways, and generally tries hard to be helpful and loving to other people.  Susie puts human relationships above money.  So why, then, has God allowed Satan (may be a metaphorical turn-of-phrase, depending on your religious views) to make Susie's front bicycle tire hit a small depression in the road surface?  Perhaps it was to see if Susie can affirm life, and God, despite all the pain she's going through.  We hope, and pray, and hope you'll join us, in supporting Susie, and praying for her return to good health.

As much pain and suffering (increasing by the day and now causing nerve-root rooted pain and tingling in her left shoulder and hand) as Susie is undergoing right now, I have faith in the following: that one day she'll look back on this experience and come to the conclusion that God (or whatever other metaphor or real being you find to be an inspiration)  is worthy to be worshiped and, in the face of His awesome majesty, worth being silent in His presence, with or without the sackcloth and ashes of the Job story.

It's late, and, like of my posts, not proof-read, so please forgive me. I need to get back on my sleeping cushion, on the back porch, and let Russell, the Coolest Cat there is, enter the room, close the door to keep out the air-conditioning which Susie loves, and getting some needed, additional, rest.

Bob

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