Spiritual Director · August 28, 2017

Devote #92

The Book of Job is such a hard book to read. It’s filled with deep conversations between men, each trying to give their opinion on why mankind suffers, what God is like and what they think Job should do. Remember, these friends of Job were saying all of this to a man who lost all his earthly possessions and was suffering miserably with a skin disease.

The Bible tells us,

“When they came near enough to see Job, they could hardly recognize him. And in their great sorrow, they tore their clothes, then sprinkled dust on their heads and cried bitterly. For seven days and nights, they sat silently on the ground beside him, because they realized what terrible pain he was in.” — Job 2:11-13

Evidently, these three friends were kind and compassionate. They loved Job enough to stay with him, even in silence. When Job started speaking in chapter 3 he asked questions about why he just didn’t die at birth and why did God let him live?

A conversation erupts between Job and his friends. You get the impression that his friends really don’t understand Job. He’s trying to figure this whole situation out and their telling him what he should do to get out of it. Even in their misguided attempts, every once in awhile they speak a word of truth, though it doesn’t really pertain to the situation. Here’s one of them that struck me today,

“Papyrus reeds grow healthy only in a swamp, and if the water dries up, they die sooner than grass.” — Job 8:11

This friend was trying to tell Job that that’s what happens to people when they turn away from God and trust in something else.

Though this didn’t explain Job at all, it was a true statement. Papyrus reeds grow healthy only in a swamp. It’s kind of like saying, “Garbage in… garbage out!”

I have what I call a swamp on our property. It’s just low land where the water settles. I don’t ever go down there, because I don’t especially like swamps. But there is all kinds of growth down there in that swamp.

Where am I going with this? Well, as I read that statement I realized that it’s truth still speaks to us today. You and I would never consider drinking the water of a swamp or bathing in a swamp. But Papyrus reeds grow healthy in a swamp. Which lead me to start thinking of what is it in my life that’s growing healthy in my swamp? What bad habit… what awful manner… what atrocious obsession has taken root in my life and is growing beautifully, that shouldn’t be?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today

We don’t always like looking in the mirror and seeing our sin, but confession is good for us and allows the Holy Spirit do to His job in our life and brings us back to relationship with our Father. Drain the swamp! Don’t let the bad stuff keep growing!


Thank You for speaking to me today and getting me back on track with You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.