Guided By Faith

Sunday, June 21, 2020
Pastor Mark Aune

Job 23:8-17

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

This morning we begin our summer preaching series; “Keeping Connected: Christian Community in Crisis”.

The intent of the planners was not to imply that Christian community is in crisis.

Although one could make the argument that it is but that is another conversation or another sermon.

The intent of the planners was to reflect on what it means for us as Christian community to stay connected– in a time of crisis.

It is not an exaggeration to say that we are in a crisis;

  • a public health crisis that has created dramatic changes in how we live, work, go to school and keep ourselves safe.
  • an economic crisis that has deeply affected business owners, people’s jobs and a new understanding of how economic health is public health.
  • a racial crisis that has been around for hundreds of years but for many people they are seeing it now for the first time and they are trying hard to figure out how to respond and understand what their role needs to be in affecting change.

If it feels like you are standing on shifting ground, well it is because you are.

Megan is gone.

George Floyd is gone.

Covid 19 is not gone.

Racism is not gone.

Marches, anger, fear, distrust, political barriers are not gone.

But let me also remind you, the church is not gone. The church is still here. We are still community. We are still connected.

I hold this to be true despite how you may be feeling and even more so, because of how you are feeling. Now more than ever we need the church to be the church.

We begin the sermon series with a reading from Job; a book in the bible that deals with suffering.

Job is a good and righteous man and he loves God and he is obedient to God and he suffers. A lot. He loses everything. His wife, his children, his business. It is all gone, taken away. He has three friends that show up to comfort him, give him advice and try to explain where God is in all of this. They aren’t very helpful. Yet Job doesn’t lose his faith.

Job as a story does not try to explain the mystery of suffering but it does explore what it means to be guided by faith in the midst of suffering.

Job is guided by faith, even as he suffers. Even as he questions the very existence of God in his life.

Our reading today is a portion of Job’s response to one of his advisors, one of his friends.

It is a lament. He cries out to a God who seems to be absent.

“If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.

In every direction Job looks, he does not see God.

In whatever direction Job goes, forward, backward, left or right, God is not there.

This is a difficult place to be and when we are in a place like this, not knowing where to go and what to think or where to turn, this is the fertile ground where faith is at work in our lives. One could say that this is an ideal situation for faith to guide and lead.

To believe and trust God even when God is absent is the definition of faith.

Notice what Job says next in our text for today. After he looks in every direction and doesn’t see God, he makes this statement of faith.

  • But he knows the way that I take;when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold.

  • My foot has held fast to his steps;I have kept his way and have not turned aside.

  • I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;I have treasured in my bosom the words of his mouth.


This is what it means to be guided by faith when you are in crisis. To follow in God’s steps and to keep God’s way your way.

If you are afraid to face your fears, now more than ever allow yourself to be guided by faith. Trust that God is leading you. Be honest that God might even be testing you and that you will come out of your fears a different person, refined like gold.

If you are trying to find you way in the national and local conversation about racism and racial disparities, now more than ever allow yourself to be guided by faith.

What might that look like for you? Where could you serve? What changes might you make? What new things do you need to learn?

Trust that God is pushing you forward.

  • Resist the temptation to politicize your feelings and blame individuals or even whole institutions and do the hard work yourself of reflecting, learning and then acting.
  • What is God calling you to do in this moment?
  • What needs to change inside of you in order for you to more fully reflect God’s intent for how we are to live and work together.

What does it mean to, in the words of Job, not depart from the commands of God’s lips and to treasure the words of God’s mouth?

Do you remember what those words are from God’s lips?

That you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.

Or these words from the prophet Micah. He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Or these words from the lips of Jesus?

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,  you did it to me.’

And we remember that Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God’s words. Not mine.

To be guided by faith is to take in these words of God, to let them go to work in our hearts and then to live them out in our daily lives. For each one of us to do the hard work of following God’s lead and going where God wants us to go.

It will require some refining and the old will have to go in order for God’s new creation to come forth.

It will require the collective work of the community to listen and learn and seek to understand what it means to follow God’s way and not turn aside.

It will require of us, like Job, to trust that we can and will be guided by faith even when we cannot see the way forward, no matter the crisis.

This is the promise. This is our work. This is the connection.

Thanks be to God. Amen

Past Sermons