Looking at gaining wisdom is not a characteristic of the times I live in. Streams of information flow at me from sources that confirm what I already feel, know or fear. At a time in the history that is the peak of knowledge, wealth, human health, technology and comfort, there is little understanding.
Have I guarded my heart as the wellspring of life? I think anxiety, fear, anger and jealousy are too easily present for me to say I have kept my eyes looking straight ahead. God's word tells me to take only firm ways. Yet hadn't Job done just that?
So much of Job's experience is like what we receive from our stream of communications. "Trolled" by friends, he now hears from Elihu. Like a blogger or counsellor, Elihu lectures Job at length about the power and justice of God, and that Job's desperation is a reflection of his lack of understanding of God. Elihu makes a call for reverence for God who has regard for all that are wise. For Job, there is little comfort in Elihu's words.
In 1969, Joni Mitchell released a song that later made Judy Collins a celebrated singer. It ended with this lyric: "I've looked at life from both sides now; from up and down and still somehow; It's life's illusions I recall; I really don't know life at all."
As in the song, without God's word and grace, my life, successes, accomplishments, fears and failures all become illusions. Like Job listening to Elihu, I gain little wisdom on how to move forward in the paths God has for me in this world.
God answers Job, and eventually me, as I struggle with understanding the trials of life. He says he's with me from the beginning of time and in my trials. Christ reminds me that the material things I see are like clouds, and they can deceive. Many times the trials of this world, and my attachments to experiences and things of this world, will pull me from "Standing firm to the end".
Help me, Lord, in seeing the true Christ, by being faithful to your gospel, and seeking the wisdom of your word. I understand that, while persecution and suffering are part of this world, a new season is ahead. Even as some of Christ's predictions, shared by Matthew, have already occurred, I know that I am in a time where I need your grace and the power of your spirit to know you, recognize you, and remain faithful to you regardless of which side of life I am looking upon.
Congregant, volunteer and great guy!