Exminster Methodist Church
Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email exminstermethodists@yahoo.co.uk, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716

Monthly Message from Rev Ben Haslam

I own a commentary on the Book of Job in which the author makes three statements. Firstly, Job is one of the world’s great works of literature. Secondly, it is one of the most difficult books of the Old Testament. Thirdly, it was written in a culture which was very different from ours. These three things make Job a formidable and daunting book to grapple with. At its heart however, it is a profound and often beautiful reflection on suffering and God. It challenges any simplistic connection between sin and suffering by acknowledging that yes, bad things do happen to good people and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they must have ‘deserved it’ in some way. The idea is introduced that some things can have a spiritual, as well as a physical origin (Satan attempts to pull Job away from the path of devotion to God through torment and hardship). This is an area which has been neglected by most of the church in our time and left us on the back foot. I recommend ‘The Screwtape letters’ by C.S. Lewis is a good place to start for a better understanding in this area.

The book of Job contains some pointed swipes at those who try to counsel Job with pat answers and trite solutions to the calamities he faces. A sympathetic ear and a willingness to listen would have been far better. Finally, God Himself appears and delivers some stunning, thundering and beautiful verse which outlines His power, glory and majesty. God, interestingly, does not give Job any answers as to why he’s suffered as he has. He simply reveals His glory. That, in the end is the definitive answer. God is God, in all His unfathomable majesty and mystery and it is in devotion and worship, that we find, not answers but meaning and fulfilment in our lives.

Job may have a reputation as a gloomy read, but it is a powerful one, and speaks to us with an added relevance at a time when so many people are asking questions with a greater urgency. Many of those questions are perennial: suffering, good and evil, where is God active in the world and what is going on when He seems to be absent? Job tackles these questions head on, not shying away from the biggest question of all: where is God? He is there all right, discovers Job, and love and care for His creation are far greater than we usually realise. With Him, ultimately, all is well.

God bless, Ben