Bible Passage: Job 32:1 - 37:2
Discussion Questions: To what lengths would God go to draw someone back to Himself? What life circumstances have you faced that forced you to seek God?
Food for Thought:
Have you ever overheard a conversation and tried to keep from being brought into it? The conversation might have been between two people at an adjacent table in a restaurant, your spouse and in-laws or two coworkers in a hallway. In the middle of a pause you are compelled to share your thoughts. What had been someone else's conversation becomes yours.
Elihu had listened to Job and his three friends discuss Job's plight. Three distinct exchanges had occurred and Elihu finally spoke up. He couldn't take it anymore. Among other things, he accused Job of failing to look honestly at the possibility that God was disciplining Job (Job 33:16-21). Up to this point, much of the conversation had been about God's punishment as opposed to His discipline.
Punishment and discipline are very different in purpose. Most of us associate punishment with deterrence and discipline with correction. Punishment is an act of justice. Discipline is an act of mercy. Discipline can be enacted to keep us from doing something before we do it, as opposed to being a response to an action already taken. Punishment is always a response.
When we face a difficulty in life, we must at least consider the possibility that God is disciplining us. He may not be, as He was not disciplining Job, but we can't simply assume His purpose. In doing so we may miss the very point of the orchestrated circumstances. God may be using the circumstances as a guide for the future. The only way to know is to ask Him.
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Dwayne McCrary is the adult Project Team Leader for Explore the Bible and can be followed on twitter @gdwayne.
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