Sunday, July 10, 2016
Biblical Text: Job 7
What is that we are say when we find ourselves experiencing the harshness of life. What shall be our response, by faith, with the hedge of protection, that has guarded against disaster, tragedy and suffering has been removed and we left not only open, exposed and vulnerable—but when we ourselves experience the dark night of the soul.
The dark night of the soul is time a deep questioning of everything. The dark night of the soul is time that is both spiritual, psychological and physical. And the dark night of the soul provides opportunities for growth. The dark night of the soul is more than a time of deep and profound testing—but it presents a crisis of faith; its presents a crisis that cannot simply justified spiritually as a “test of the Evil One” nor can it be justified psychologically and physical as rare moment or a bad dream that we have been awake to—no the dark night of the soul is as Eckhart Tolle describes “a collapse of perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of deep sense of meaninglessness…sometimes triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps on an external level.” The collapse of life of ones whole conceptual framework for life—and the meaning given to it.
How do we explain the gun violence in this country?
How do we explain the racial injustice in the country?
How do we explain gender injustices?
How do we explain the mass killing of queer persons in Florida?
How do we explain the killing of black men and women in America?
How do we explain the death of more than 135 black people by police this year?
How do we explain the reality of 1 in every 15 black men are incarcerated,
while only 1 in every 106 white men are incarcerated?
How do we rationalize the truth that blacks having a nearly six times incarceration of whites–1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated are Black folks.
How do we explain away the lack of resources in our community?
In our schools?
In our neighborhoods?
Right in our own backyard we have a park that has not been renovated since the early 90’s—while parks in more affluent, less dense, neighborhood are renovated.
We are living in a dark night of the soul—a dark night in America’s soul—but a dark night Black America’s soul because these issues are not being visited everybody.
When we have more and more people of privilege who are beginning to ask questions—who are beings to notice the trends, and the important justice serving role that social media is playing being these issues to the American consciousness…
I have a friend of mine who pastors a large white Baptist church in Greensboro North Carolina. A white man of deep privilege—who recently wrote how now, after the recent shootings, and his anti-racism work with other local pastors how his eye have been open—yet in the same post he wrote about how in working to draft a antiracism statement with the racially diverse group of pastors and community leaders he became visibly frustrated because his language: southern, white, male, upper middle-class, cis-gendered privilege language did not earn him the priority and place of privilege he was accustom to occupying—
The UCC has started some anti-racism work nation-wide. I am proud of the work we have done, and I am so proud of the work that we have accomplished in our partnership. But when asked by colleagues in ministry if my congregation was going to participate in the anti-racism work—I responded coldly and quickly “we never stopped participating….we are black UCC congregation in Southern California—-we been doing this work since 1957, when WE decided to constitute this denomination.”
And this morning we cannot lose sight of Job’s story. We cannot lose sight of his witness, we cannot lose of sight of faithfulness—and frustration, we cannot lose of his sense of devotion and worship. We cannot lose sight of the Job in whom Job placed his life completely—and trusts.
Last Sunday at the end of losing everything, Job lifted his heart in worship.
He gave his fears and frustrations to God quickly and easily as he his faith in God:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there;
the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.“
Job’s friends come to comfort him, but the comfort only lasts until Job erupts with emotion and feelingfulness. We know that Job, because we experience the depth of pain and the darkness of soul—which he tells straight to the Lord.
Who is the Lord if we cannot bear our sorrows and know he cares?
Who is the Lord , if we cannot bear our frustration and know he cares?
Who is the Lord, if we cannot tell God how is really is?
Who is the Lord, if he doesn’t know what we feel?
Who is the Lord, if he doesn’t know where we hurt.
What we experience here in the text is the power of a true relationship, a relationship that has been built upon a solid foundation—so that in Chapter 7, when Job decides that he speak directly with the Lord, where he is going to tell the Lord in whom he has trusted and worshiped his experience of truth—
He is restless.
He is troubled.
He is empty
He is impatient
His heart is aching
His soul is weakend….
Job cries out “What have I done to deserve this?”
In the very same way that protesters around the country are
And Searching their soul and faith for an answer.
For to many us, if feels like we cannot escape the harassing powers and oppressive structures. WE are deprived, like Job, of even the most limited autonomy as we struggle from day to day—there is no luxury of unlimited time because black lives are being snuffed out each day….Job’s words teach us that we can be honest with God.
When we are sad—we can express our sadness to a God who cares
When we are angry—we can express our anger to a God who take it.
When we confused—we can express our confusion to God who loves us.
When we are tossed and turned, and don’t know what to do—we have God who will stand up by in both good and bad—who will never give up on us…
Yet what I love most about this is found at the end of Verse 21 of the 7th chapter.
“You will seek me…
God does not give up on—but God will seek us.
Leaving the ninety-nine for us.
Seeking to move us from misery and despair to abundance—and hope.