“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For God wounds, but God also binds up; God injures, but God’s hands also heal. From six calamities God will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.” – Job 5:17-19 (NIV)
Maybe it’s Covid-tide, or just a mix up in my own daily rhythms, but somehow I’ve ended up disoriented from the tick-tick-tick of the calendar. Job 5:13-14 sums up my disorientation in time: “God catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night.” It sure feels like darkness must have come in the day, and I ate lunch in the dark. What happened? Was I wily or just forgetful?
When such a disorientation happens, it’s easy for me (and perhaps you, too?) to fall into a self-made pit of despair. My inner self-talk can quickly turn to blame and shame: “Why can’t I remember when something is due!? Why did I wait for the last minute?!”
But the message in Job continues with some words of comfort for human beings—those of us who make human errors. Being corrected is a blessing. Don’t be angry at God for receiving discipline; welcome it as a guide for your future. God protects you, there is nothing to fear. We all make mistakes. The key is to be open to correcting them and doing better the next time. God rescues us from calamities, even of our own making. And perhaps they aren’t calamities at all, but merely opportunities for learning.
God, may your rhythms become my rhythms. May I not be afraid when you correct my ways and reorient me in your direction. Amen.
Ann is co-pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn (UCC/RCA) and Chaplain for the Fire Department of the City of New York.