A Book of Devotional Stories
Why do bad things happen to good people? Do the wicked prosper while the innocent are punished? Does God really care about us at all? These are age-old questions that are answered in the Old Testament Book of Job! During the Lenten Season of 2017, St. Matthew Lutheran Church & School in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois used the sermon and Bible study series “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” presented by the Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. This devotional book was written to enhance that series of sermons and Bible studies.
Ed Blonski began writing devotions – using stories – in 1998 (or so) – and started compiling them in paperback book and e-reader form in 2016.
To date there are five volumes in this book series. Below is one of his favorites from volume 4.
And [Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar] sat with [Job] on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
The first time I ever saw a dead body was at the funeral of my grandfather.
It was weird, seeing him just lying there. He kind-of looked like he was asleep, but I knew better.first time I ever saw a dead body was at the funeral of my grandfather.
When my grandfather slept he made all kinds of noises. He wasn’t now. When he slept in his chair he also tended to jerk around some. He wasn’t now.
Most people go through their whole life seeing maybe a dozen or two dead bodies – attending funerals of loved ones and friends. The number tends to increase the older you get and the older your friends and family get.
But as a pastor for more than twenty years, I have been averaging 30-35 funerals per year. It’s an occupational thing, to be sure.
But I guess I never really thought about how many dead bodies I would see as a pastor when I was in school.
What Do You Say?
I’ve been to homes just as the funeral director gets there or even before he does. I’ve been in the hospital room or hospice room as death occurs.
And no matter how many times I witness death, I always have the same fear.
What do I say?
The best thing to say is … nothing at all. There is a Jewish custom about this called “Sitting Shiva.”
Shiva is the week-long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather to receive visitors. The word shiva comes from the Hebrew word for “seven,” signifying the seven-day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.
This is what Job’s three friends initially do upon hearing about the death of his ten children.
There is a video from Matt Popovits on “What to say at a funeral.” (you can see it here: https://youtu.be/Gx-L4A4RhK8)
The best thing about Matt’s video is when he says:
God is good.
Jesus is fixing it.
When someone you know suffers the death of a loved one, just be there for them.
Sit with them. Pray for them. Offer them specific help, “Can I bring you a casserole on Thursday?” (I’m Lutheran, so casseroles are my go-to comfort food.)
Job’s three friends Sit Shiva with him for seven days. They get down in the dirt with Job. They grieve with him.
And that’s a good thing.
But after they are given permission to speak – because Job speaks first – they do some rather unhelpful things. That’s coming up in a future devotion.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you will give me courage to be a comfort to those who are grieving, and give me the right words to say – even if those words are no words at all; in Jesus’ name. Amen.