Monday, May 4, 2020

Sitting with Job: Introduction

     In times of crisis, personal or otherwise, I start seeking out companions for the journey. I identify the people, songs, stories, and coping mechanisms that are going to help me get through the day. So, when this pandemic started, I instituted a daily, one-hour walk (made possible by all the Goldfish I use to bribe my son to sit in a stroller that long), I lined up my podcasts to listen to during those walks, I work (as much as a mother with a toddler can) to stay connected to friends who keep me grounded, I do all I can to prioritize watching a weekly worship service, and I've made weekly therapy appointments a must. All of these tools and more have made surviving these first 50+ days of the pandemic possible, but being in the midst of an ongoing global crisis means that the hits don't stop coming just because we've been in quarantine for almost two months. As an academic, I'm facing the reality of a mostly non-existent job market this coming school year, trying to write a dissertation without knowing when childcare will be available or safe, and needing to find work to fill in the gaps while we wait and see what's going to happen in the next 6-12 months. And even as I say that, I know that my family's experience is both valid and only one of millions of stories of hardship as the world enters into what seems to be an interminable period of waiting and hoping and struggling as we watch to see how this pandemic and our response to it will unfold. 
     As I came to grips with this perpetual state of crisis in my life and the world, I realized I needed to seek out additional companions for this current stage of my journey. In the past, I have turned to scripture, leaning on the witness of Jesus, Mary, Abigail, and Esther, to name a few. As I discerned who could be a companion for this season, Job kept bubbling up. At first, I did not want to journey with Job. I didn’t want to have anything in common with Job, and I certainly didn’t want to have to confront the theological struggles about God, evil, and theodicy that inevitably come up when reading Job. 
     Yet I couldn’t escape the sense that Job would be a good friend for the present moment. Given the primary posture throughout Job, it seems appropriate that a journey with Job doesn’t really move from one point to another, but takes a stance of sitting, waiting, wailing, making outrageous claims, struggling with the outrageous claims of others, and all the while expecting that God is going to show up. So, acknowledging the possibility that you might also need a scriptural companion right now, I invite you to sit with Job with me. I am going to work to post reflections twice a week, although I beg your grace if such consistency is not possible. I will let you know at the end of each reflection what chapters I’ll be covering in the next post if you want to read ahead. These reflections will not be what I would call a Bible study, but more a spiritual, theological dialogue between the text of Job and my background, experiences, and perspectives. While some of my theological training will definitely come into play, I do not intend for this to be a highly researched, technical endeavor. Rather, it is me sharing my sitting journey with Job and God in the midst of this pandemic with whoever might benefit from it. I welcome conversation and input along the way, even if I am not capable of responding very quickly given the vagaries of parenting a toddler. By Wednesday, I hope to post my first reflection, which will cover chapters 1-3 of Job. I look forward to sitting in the struggle with you, and I firmly believe that within the sitting we will encounter the holy.      

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