Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Preaching Notes

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Mystery Worship Series, week 4 — RESTORED
October 28, 2018

Two friends, Larry and Kareem, spent many days together on the playground during recess. Larry was the youngest boy in class. He was a little behind the growth curve and was deathly afraid of heights. Every day, while everyone else looked forward to recess, Larry would be scared and anxious. He couldn’t run fast, kick a ball accurately, or even gather enough strength to slide down the large slide. Kareem, however, was the kid picked first for dodgeball. He was tall and athletic. He became Larry’s greatest cheerleader. He would stand behind Larry on the slide singing, “Go, Larry, go; you can do this.” Every day, Kareem sang, “Go, Larry, go; you can do this.” And with every day, they played together, Larry grew more fearless and enjoyed recess more and more.

Until one day Kareem became very sick and was out of school for an entire week. Larry stared down the view of the long slide. As he turned to go safely back to solid ground, inside a voice resonated in his head, “Go, Larry, go; you can do this.” Larry turned back around and slid down that slide without apprehension. You see, a good friend— even in absence— helps discover things within you that you never knew existed in yourself. Kareem, in many ways, helped to restore Larry’s sense of strength, courage, and faith.

God can see things within us that our mortal eyes are too limited to see. God knew Job had the strength, persistence, and faith to withstand the suffering he would endure. Job replies to God, “I know you can do anything; no plan of yours can be opposed successfully” (Job 42:2, CEB). After losing loved ones, suffering declining health, and having many sleepless nights, Job learned much about God’s wisdom. Job understands and accepts that his own judgement and understanding is unclear, but God’s vision is never blurry and God’s plans are never unsuccessful. Job learned an invaluable lesson through this experience with God. He learned to listen, to hear, and to find comfort in God despite his perceived difficulty (2-6).

There are moments in life where our sight is limited because it is gauged by the perception of our experiences. Often, we look not with our eyes, but behind our eyes. We see the world, ourselves, and one another through the sum of our experiences, and we are unable to witness the world with new, subjective eyes. Job could see justice only in terms of what he deemed was right and wrong. He judged God and himself within that small category of “righteousness.” However, the same God that allowed Job to be persecuted is the same God that restored him. “Then the Lord changed Job’s fortune when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord doubled all Job’s earlier possessions” (10).

When Job discovered his sight was limited, he shifted his expectations as well. Job, although the recipient of God’s blessings, was never fully in control of his health, his children, his wealth, or even with his relationships. God’s hand is at work in our lives, and it is up to each of us as disciples of Jesus Christ, to be obedient to God’s will. How does it feel to rely on things you cannot see? Why do we feel lost when we cannot secure our own lives? How ironic it is that the moment Job stops trying to figure God out and prays is the moment he is restored by God?

Restoration in this text is not referring to the external or the temporal understanding of material means, but it is translated as the state of being full, abounding, and being content. Ultimately, Job illustrates that in spite of our personal pain and hurt, when we cannot change our situation, we can change our perspective. Although, we may not fully understand the mind of God, the right thing to do is to trust that God is within us and will never fail. Moreover, God is present in that small voice saying “Go my child, go. You can do this!”

God is bigger than any obstacle that we can ever face. God is able to keep us, even when we are afflicted with trouble. God is sovereign and has given us the capacity to overcome life’s challenges. In spite of the reality of pain and loss, God’s creation is supported, sustained, and restored.