Food for Thought: Accept Trouble, January 30, 2019

Food for Thought: Accept Trouble, January 30, 2019

Accept Trouble:  Discussion led by Pastor Bryan Hackett

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

Accept humiliation as a surprise, Value great misfortune as your own self. 

What do I mean by “Accept humiliation as a surprise”?

When you are humble, attainment is a surprise–and so is loss.

That’s why I say, “Accept humiliation as a surprise.”

 What do I mean by “Value great misfortune as your own self”?

If I have no self, how could I experience misfortune? 

Therefore, if you dedicate your life for the benefit of the world,

You can rely on the world.

If you love dedicating yourself in this way,

You can be entrusted with the world.


Another Translation

Accept disgrace willingly. Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?
Accept being unimportant. Do not be concerned with loss and gain.
This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”

What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?
Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

A Note about holy books—they are ALL translated. The above example shows just how much meaning can change in translation!

  • What about this chapter from the Tao te Ching makes sense to you? What doesn’t?
  • What thoughts come to mind about accepting either disgrace or misfortune?
  • Can you think of other paths of teaching (philosophical, religious, etc.) that teach this?

The Bible, various authors: Job 2

  • Job is probably, by far, the oldest book in the Bible
  • Job is an “epic poem”, like the Iliad and the Odyssey by homer. LOTS of metaphor and other non-literal language
  • The “satan” (not a proper name) in Job is a member of the heavenly court, like a prosecuting attorney. NOT the ‘devil’ with which we have become familiar.

 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to satan, “Where have you come from?”satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

 Then the Lord said to satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”  “Skin for skin!” satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.  But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

 The Lord said to satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”  So satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

  His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

  When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

 Is it a valuable insight to “accept” both good and trouble, regardless of our thoughts on the source of evil?

Some Christians would respond “resist the devil and he will flee from you”!—don’t accept, resist!

On the other hand, can this not be a damaging thing to tell people who are in distress? (sort of the way Job’s “comforters” do!)


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