Job wasn't ready. You know when God starts a conversation by telling you to dress like a man that it is going to be good. God essentially says to Job, alright mate, put your big boy pants on, and pay attention. And then the questions begin, and they are God's questions exposing Job's limitations when compared to God's lack of those very same limitations.
When I re-read the story of Samson today, it was no less tragic but I could see some of the strands of grace. A man with low impulse control, who is remarkably gifted by God's Spirit but who cannot control his ego, his temper or his sex drive ends up being weakened and humiliated, and the only glimpse of redemption comes in the form of self-destructive revenge, and yet, God uses Him in the ongoing advance of His Kingdom, and gifts him grace and power, in spite of himself. That's just like God, to love and empower and work through really flawed people.
The twelve tribes of Israel are conceived in sin, competition, oppression (Bilhah and Zilpah are victims of some very peculiar sexual sins here), fornication and desperation. Everywhere you look in this storyline there is human weakness and wickedness and yet it is all bound together in the gracious faithfulness of a covenant keeping God. Only God could bring something beautiful out of all of this, and He does! It is amazing to consider that for future generations, God was happy to be named as the God of Jacob! That isn't a testament to the faithfulness of Jacob, but it is God showing His people that He stays faithful to even the most wayward of sons.
People are now locked away with the demons and temptations that don't respect social distancing. I am saddened to hear of and see the impact that is having on people who are tired of fighting those demons and who ordinarily used the warm light of community as a place to temporarily escape them. Now, they live with us, all the time, and we cannot leave.
Jesus prays not because He is superhuman, but because He is human. It isn't a sign of His strength that He rubs our nose in, it is evidence of His dependence on the Father that He invites us into. His early morning prayer session isn't the separated hours of spiritual practice reserved for an unhurried monk, but rather it is the life giving retreat of a very busy shepherd.
What is important though, is what we watch for while we wait. Our belief will be determined by our beholding. Our faith will be fueled by the object of our focus. Where we look will determine how well we last.
Elihu strikes me a little bit like a young man who stumbles into Calvinism for the first time. Extremely passionate, very vocal, long-winded, lacking nuance, and rapidly running out of friends to yell at.
There is a difference then between the Spirit's gifts and the Spirit's fruits. The gifts are just that...gifts, given to us as a kindness of God. The fruits though require life long growth and care. They grow out of a life of walking in the Spirit. This should still be our focus and desire, that we would grow fruit. If God has given you remarkable gift, great! Be humble, be thankful, be faithful, and walk a life that focuses on fruit and not just gift. I have met too many Christian leaders who are incredibly gifted and also jerks. The reason for this is that we celebrate gift over fruit.
The story of the covenant people of God in Genesis is a story of God's faithfulness to a people who are fighting to survive. They are exiles, sojourners, almost everywhere they go, and they face the steepest odds in every land - not to mention the odds they lengthen through their own sin - and yet they cling to a promise that God will sustain them, bless them, increase them, and get them home. That is the story arc of all of the people of God, but we forgot the whole exiles and sojourners part of it.