Let the Spirit of the Lord Rise
Then Job answered: “Today also my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him…” – Job 23:1-2
He stood in the pulpit in front of an engaged, full congregation that was right there with him and he directed as if they were a choir. They sang in multi-part harmony with him:
Let the Spirit of the Lord rise!
Let the Glory of the Lord rise!
Listening back, I am struck by his pacing, how he kept it all moving, elevating the pulse, getting people on their feet, ready to praise spirit, glory.
He was murdered a week later in his home.
Botham Jean did everything right. He’d graduated college – a small, Christian college in Arkansas – not long before. He was a church leader! In Dallas! He had a job at a nationally-reputable firm. And he was in his own home when he was killed under circumstances that boggle the mind.
Botham Jean is a Job. Job was a “blameless” man who got his own book in the Scriptures, perhaps to remind us that, even in the Bible, there were people who did everything right and still lost everything. A chief difference between them is that Job had the chance to live.
Job was surrounded by “friends” who claimed that he must have done something to deserve his calamity. But the Bible is crystal-clear: he did not deserve this.
May we never wield the knife that blames a victim for their deep misfortune.
May our faith train us to recognize a Job who has the right to embittered complaint.
Job wanted to find God to offer his complaint. Over time, his prayer was granted.
Brother Botham Jean lost the chance to offer that prayer. His life was cut too short.
Here is what I believe: his death was wrong, unnecessary, unjust.
Here’s what I also believe: just as the Spirit of the Lord will rise, so, too, will Brother Botham, who now knows just where to find his Lord.
When we treat a Job as if they deserve their lot, may we find you soon enough to know to repent. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.