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Speaking to the Soul: Off to a Rough Start

Speaking to the Soul: Off to a Rough Start

Feast of Saints Philip and James (transferred)

[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 119:137-160 (morning) // 139 (evening)

Job 23:1-12

John 1:43-51

In today’s first reading, Job awakens to a brand new day, but he’s not looking forward to the blessings he’ll receive, nor scanning the horizon for opportunity. He faces the day without joy, without hope. For Job, today is just like the days before it and the days ahead. As Job announces, “Today also my complaint is bitter.” A note in my Bible tells me that an alternative translation for “bitter” would be “contentious” or “defiant.” Thus, we get a sense of Job’s approach to day-by-day living in this season of his life: he faces each day, day after day, with the same bitterness and defiance.

Perhaps we too are carrying with us today a regularly recurring complaint, a lasting savor of bitterness about something, or a deep internal resistance to the course of our lives or of the world around us.

And there may be nothing wrong with that. What’s most important to Job in these circumstances is that he keep moving forward along his path rather than get stuck chasing his tail. He’s tempted to stop and look for God this way and that, and yet: “If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.” God is not up ahead, not lagging behind, not standing off to the left, not sidling up to Job’s right. So, if Job looks for God back and forth and left and right, then Job will just end up tracking over the same ground or spinning in circles.

Instead, Job determines to move forward slowly, for God “knows the way that I take . . . My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.” Job slogs ahead, carrying his bitter complaint, not finding God hovering around him, but following God’s ways as best he can. Some, or many, or all days may be like that. At least we travel in good company.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace 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.


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