Week of Proper 17, Year Two
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)
After losing all of his wealth and social standing, Job knows all too well the danger of being “at ease.” When we’re enjoying some kind of comfort, or a well-functioning relationship, or a moment of success, we may think that misfortune can’t touch us. Job has a warning for the comfortable, though: “Those at ease have contempt for misfortune, but it is ready for those whose feet are unstable.” Misfortune, it seems, has a way of finding us, for our good fortunes are usually less stable than we think.
Our fortunes are especially unstable when we mistakenly think that they have a solid footing in our own personal righteousness. In our first reading today, Job gives us the disturbing perspective that we and our righteousness control so very little of the world around us. Our choices and virtues may play a role in determining our circumstances, but that role is, according to Job, a relatively small one.
For Job, the real force that chooses our fortunes is God: “If he tears down, no one can rebuild; if he shuts someone in, no one can open up. If he withholds the waters, they dry up; if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.” I am less inclined than Job to see God’s active and intentional involvement in orchestrating our misfortunes. Yet, I share Job’s sense that our circumstances are shaped by factors that are far beyond the control of individuals or our best efforts to be righteous. Job’s insight can bring us deeper ease today by increasing our compassion, rather than our contempt, for the misfortunes we witness or know first-hand.
Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.