Andy Broadbent writes:
I don’t know how you are feeling at the moment, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. In the re-imposition of Lockdown, gains made since the end of summer seem to have been swept away. With new restrictions come new challenges. Some are familiar, like digital worship and distancing, but others feel different. Lockdown in winter seems harsher and more isolating than it did in the warmth of summer.
When one bad thing happens after another, I like to reflect on the book of Job in the Bible. Like us as a church and community, Job had lost his livelihood, his property and family. Unlike Job, we know all these things still stand, awaiting our return, but still, we are separated from our loved ones and locked out of our beloved places. Job however sits in the ashes of his life, scorned by all around him, and wracked with disease, but he still holds tight to his faith that God will save him. It is at this dark point in Job’s story that comes one of my favourite passages in the Old Testament:
But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God! (Job 19:25-26)
Job points to his redeemer, which we recognise as Jesus Christ (whose coming into the world is amazingly still about 600 years away when Job is speaking). He holds fast to the knowledge, which must have been revealed to him by God, that he has a friend in heaven. An advocate who will fight his corner, but not only that, who will come to earth physically and stand with humanity. Job goes on to describe a continuation of life after death which would have seemed alien to the Israelites at the time, and through all of this, he pins all of his hopes, joys and salvation on the promised reality of Christ the Redeemer.
If Job in his terrible suffering can find such a haven of mercy and justice in God, enough to hold true to God even against toughest of tests, then there is also hope for us all today.
We have in Job a model of faith, and we have in Jesus a model of love, mercy and redemption. That can, and will, pull us through all our present troubles back into the light and warmth of spring – the promise of new life that lies beyond.
Ewch allan yn awr, wedi eich achub mewn cariad, wedi eich adnewyddu mewn ffydd, wedi eich adfer mewn nerth ac wedi eich adfywio mewn ysbryd. Dychwelwch fel disgybl i’ch taith, yn enw’r Crist atgyfodedig sy’n mynd o’ch blaen. Amen.
Go now, redeemed in love, renewed in faith, restored in strength and refreshed in spirit. Return to your journey of discipleship, in the name of the risen Christ who goes before you. Amen.
Prayer: Nick Fawcett (tr. Aled Davies) © Kevin Mayhew/Cyhoeddiadau’r Gair