FRANKIN GRAHAM EVENT & THE GLASGOW HYDRO ARENA

(This is a letter I happily put my name to a few days ago. It has been sent to MSPs, local councillors and newspapers)

4 February 2020

The cancellation by the SSE Hydro in Glasgow of the Franklin Graham event is a deeply disturbing decision that is antithetical to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and to true democratic values.  

Franklin Graham is being discriminated against for having on occasions expressed mainstream Judaeo-Christian views on sexuality. His views in this area are not religiously extreme, indeed they simply reflect the historic and orthodox teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and countless other denominational groups. Like all mainstream Christian leaders Franklin Graham believes that every human being is a precious soul made in the image of God, and thus should be loved and treated with respect accordingly.

The planned event is one in a rich tradition of such Christian activity going back centuries in both Glasgow and the country at large. As Rev. Graham has expressed himself his mission is not political but to make known the good news about Jesus Christ to every person regardless of their sexuality or any other characteristic.

As the leaders representing evangelical churches in the West of Scotland Gospel Partnership, we want to express our consternation and deep-seated fears at this discriminatory act against a faith group that has faithfully served the civic good of our city for generations.   

Christians disagree about many things, but Christians all agree that respect for religious freedom and freedom of speech is fundamental to a free society. Therefore, we ask that the SSE Hydro management, and those political leaders who have influence in such matters, reverse this decision.

A failure to do so would be an ominous move towards a less free society and one that will in time have serious repercussions for the civic liberties of all.

On behalf the West of Scotland Gospel Partnership,

Rev. Colin Adams (Greenview Church, Glasgow)

Rev. Dr William Philip (The Tron Church, Glasgow)

Rev. Alan McKnight (Harper Church, Glasgow)

Rev. John MacKinnon (Calderwood Baptist Church, East Kilbride)

Rev. Dr Andrew Gemmill (Cornhill Training Scotland)

Rev. Craig Dyer (Christianity Explored Ministries)

Rev. Andrew Hunter (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches).

Something You Could Pray For Preachers

Heavenly Father,

I pray for those who preach your Word regularly. Thank you for calling them to yourself and by your mercy giving them this ministry.

Enable them to live with Christ-like integrity, so that their conduct doesn’t make a mockery of the things they preach. Help them set an example in every respect: in the words they say, the actions they choose, the love the show, the purity they display.

Grant them the sure conviction that all of the Scriptures are God-breathed and useful. Guard them from pride on the one hand and complacency on the other. May they fan their gift into flame, diligently using it and not neglecting it.

In the study, inspire them to labour. Open their eyes to see those very wonderful things that are in your Word. Give them clarity of thought that will help them understand both the burden of the message and how to convey it.

When they come to preach, give them boldness. May they not cower before men but be as fearless as untamed lions. Help them not to rely on eloquence but to lean on your Word and Spirit as their true wisdom and power.

Would all their speech in the pulpit be seasoned with salt. May they be like Christ and his apostles that followed: feeding the flock, building up the church and doing the work of the evangelist.

May they preach the Word, nothing else! May they exalt Christ, not themselves!

I ask all these things for the glory of your name and the extension of your kingdom.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

The Eleven Commandments For Long Winded Preachers

Eleven… because these are not divinely inspired, but I hope they point in the general direction of wisdom.

  1. Thou shalt not be uncertain about the burden of your message. Sermons run over when the preacher doesn’t know what the sermon is about. What is the thrust of the message? Can you summarise the message in 15 words or less? If not, then you’ve probably got a commentary not a sermon.
  2. Thou shalt not be overly long in your introductions. This is a frequent flaw in many preachers: we take too long to really get started. I agree with the wisdom that suggests most intros should be a paragraph or two, tops. So cut down the details of that opening illustration. Don’t spend too long in recapping the book. If you’re taking 15 minutes on sermon-intros, don’t wonder where all your time is going!
  3. Thou shalt not be overly repetitive. Since preaching is oral communication, it demands a degree of repetition. The congregation aren’t reading a book. They cannot return to that previous paragraph and revisit what was just said. Clear, compelling preaching will often re-iterate key ideas and phrases. The danger is in overdoing it. At some point repetition becomes tedious and starts to insult the intelligence of the congregation.
  4. Thou shalt not go off piste (and if you do… factor that in). Some preacher’s manuscripts hardly resemble the sermon they preach. The glasses come off, the pulpit is departed and off they go. If this is part of our preaching DNA, then fair enough; but it is not conducive to timeliness. So if you are ‘prone to wander’ factor that extra 20 percent into your word count.
  5. Thou shalt not ignore the clock. This can be all too easy, especially if (as in my church) the clock is on the side wall! If time is of the essence, consider putting your watch on the pulpit. Recently when I was under particular time-pressure I actually had a stop watch running in front of me. It helped.
  6. Thou shalt not become besotted with one particular idea. This is a slightly controversial one, but a Bible teachers’ excitement about a textual discovery can cause them to camp on a particular idea. We especially need to be wary that it isn’t just a hobby horse we’re riding. Ten minutes of a sermon gallops away when we’re on the back of one of those!
  7. Thou shalt not give all the detail (but a few “deep dives” are actually helpful). Some preachers love to say everything about everything. Worse, they feel they are not properly teaching the text unless they discuss, quite exhaustively, every phrase and word. But let’s be clear about this. Even if we preached for an hour, we would only scratch the surface of any text. That being said, I would personally recommend a few “deep dives” here and there in every sermon. Why not pick two or three things in the sermon that you’ll go into more detail about? Detail makes a sermon engaging.
  8. Thou shalt not do subpoints.
  9. Thou shalt not neglect the practice of summarising. This is the key to preaching more briefly. Learn the art of summing up and speaking in broader strokes.
  10. Thou shalt not be overly wordy. This is similar to the previous point but here I am emphasising the discipline of reducing the number of words we use in sentences. I’m reminded of the counsel of JC Ryle who said “preach as though you have asthma.” Ie. keep the sentences short.
  11. Thou shalt not fail to land the sermon on the first attempt. This is not an encouragement to rush the ending. Not a few sermons suffer from the jolt of an unexpected landing. When we ‘bring the sermon in’, there should be a moderately paced descent, followed by a definitive landing. If knowing how we’ll begin is vital, perhaps as important is knowing how we’ll conclude. Be it with a poigniant question, a powerful story, or a penetrating last line, know where you’re setting things down.

Deciding The Diet

Devising a church’s yearly preaching schedule is deceptively tricky and invariably daunting. I have learned, by painful experience I’ll add, that I must start cogitating by the start of September at least. The process of pondering continues, on and off, till early December; at which point the hard thinking, long-praying and mutual conversing will hopefully have given birth to like a plan.

Most of this creative process happens somewhat intuitively. But if I sit down to think about it, the procedure isn’t nearly as random as it first may seem. A handful of important factors carry great weight in the ‘calls’ that are made.

History. I start with the obvious question: ‘what has been preached recently’? In fact, we are even more forensic than this in our church. Thanks to the record keeping of an assiduous elder, we have kept accurate sermon records for the last twenty years. There is also another spreadsheet that is constantly updated: where we tick off, systematically, all 66 books of Holy writ. Quite recently we finished a ’round’ of the New Testament, and are down to a handful of books in the Old. We then simply restart the cycle over again. What has ‘yet to be preached’ doesn’t always dictate our choices, but we take seriously a commitment to teaching Scripture from cover to cover.

Genre. Something I nabbed from Mark Dever (about a decade ago) was the idea of ‘rotating’ through biblical genres. Though we don’t adhere to a strict order, we are cognisant of the need to balance the literature types we are covering. In 2020, for example, we are covering the genres of narrative, gospel, wisdom and apocalyptic.

Old and New. By conviction and experience I am committed to the joyful task of preaching the Old Testament. We have one Bible, not two. The Old is as full of Christ as the New, even if there is a certain subtlety at times to the pre-incarnate revelation. We will almost always try to balance our diet of Old and New throughout the year.

Desire. Needless to say, this is subjective… but there is the matter of what I want to preach. In the face of competing options I will often just opt for the book that most interests me. It might be a book I’ve never preached on before, a book I feel I don’t much understand, or it may be something that has piqued my interest in the regular round of Bible readings.

Relevance. Though I don’t put a great amount of stock in this, there is at least some thought given to the timeliness of a book. I won’t go overboard with this consideration, since I’m convinced that all Scripture is relevant all the time. Sometimes the things we think are relevant cause us to neglect other truths that we need just as much. I’ve also discovered that God by his Spirit is quite able to create a certain “timeliness” as to when a certain passage “happens” to be preached.

Space. There is sometimes the sheer practical issue of how many sermon slots are available in the calendar. If I’m sitting with 8 slots, I can’t preach that 20 week series that I’m desperate to unfold. It will need to wait till another year.

2020 Foresight

One of my admittedly few goals for 2020 (I’m not a big resolutions guy, but that’s another story) is to blog a fair bit more. Over the past three months, in a number of unsolicited conversations with pastors, I have been reminded of the blog and urged strongly to get myself writing more frequently.

Feeling suitably chastised, here I am.

A quirky problem I have is that I prefer to produce more substantial posts. But in the busyness of life and ministry, this can lead, unsurprisingly, to an inevitable outcome: not much blogging. So my thought this year is to produce briefer, less well crafted pieces, that will nonetheless seek to get the point across.

Some topics of interest to me just now include :

  • the practicalities of preaching Christ in every sermon
  • improving my interpretation and application of narratives
  • how to address controversial matters in sermons
  • the place of passion and how to cultivate it authentically
  • moving our sermons from Sunday only events to pervading the church week
  • dealing with distractions in the moment of preaching.

I’d love to hear (either in the comments or by personal dm) what topics you’d like to see me blog about in 2020?

What are we all wrestling with in our preaching at the moment?

That Might Preach, But…

I once preached a sermon on the Magi where I dazzled the congregation. I walked them through the Magi’s gifts and explained their deeper meaning. Gold, of course, represented Jesus’ royalty. Incense his deity; and myrrh the looming spectre of his death.

It ‘preached’ pretty well but I remember feeling uneasy. Was this really what I should have been preaching from that text?

Many Christmas puddings later I now have an inkling why I felt that way. The message was exegetically unstable. Or put another way: I am now far less certain that Matthew or the Holy Spirit intended us to see these deeper meanings.

In his writings on Matthew, Don Carson expressed the same view with more dogmatism:

Commentators old and modern have found symbolic value in the three gifts… This interpretation demands too much insight from the Magi. The three gifts were simply expensive and not uncommon presents and may have helped finance the trip to Egypt.

Oh well, then.

(cue sound of sermon notes being scrumpled)

I strongly suspect that Carson is right, but what I’m really interested in is a wider problem. In our desire to make Scripture ‘preachable’ we import uncertain meanings into the text, while ignoring glorious truths that are actually there.

Take the Magi and Matthew 2 for instance. In this famous Christmas passage there are least six emphases nearer to the forefront of Matthew’s mind.

1.Promises of the coming Davidic King are now being fulfilled. Note the significance of Jesus’ birthplace and the allusion to a messianic prophecy (Numbers 24).

2. The contrast between Jewish and pagan responses to Christ’s birth. There is hostility and apathy on the one hand; fascination and worship on the other.

3. Gentile inclusion in the promises of God. This is also suggested in the genealogy of chapter 1 and is a concluding emphasis in Matthew’s gospel (go make disciples of all nations).

4. The Messiah is worshiped. The pagans were unlikely to have viewed Jesus as divine, but they “worshiped better than they knew.” (Carson)

5. There is an echo of Pharaoh’s attempt in Exodus to destroy Hebrew male children and the line of promise. There is, like that occasion, divine preservation. But the Bethlehem persecution anticipates the later plot to kill Jesus as a man.

6. A new exodus is underway. The star goes before the Magi like the cloud went before the Israelites. Jesus will be taken to Egypt like Joseph was in the book of Genesis. He will come out of Egypt, go through water, endure a wilderness before coming to a mountain (Matthew 5).

We’ve only scratched the surface of the Magi and Matthew 2. But the point I wanted to make has hopefully been demonstrated. In stressing ideas that are tenuous at best, we are in danger of missing out on meanings that are there.

We must preach the Word, not conjecture. And there’s no holiday from that, even at Christmas.

So What? A Seminar On Application (MP3)

Here is the recent seminar I ran on application with some of the guys at church. Listen or download here.

Some of what we covered:

  • 1:07 – Few helps in application
  • 3:20 – No conscious method
  • 5:39 – Application is a ‘confrontational act’
  • 7:33 – Why application is essential (a reflection on 2 Timothy 3:15-17 – what has God designed the Bible to do?)
  • 12:42 – A brief analysis of Jonty Allcock’s introduction to Luke 5:1-11 (EMA 2016).
  • 15:02 – The “explanation focused” sermon vs the “application focused” sermon.
  • 21:23 – Principle 1: The better the interpretation, the better the application
  • 27:11 – Principle 2: Apply to the whole person.
  • 29:32 – Principle 3: Apply to a wide range of people and situations (Application grid/ don’t just preach to yourself).
  • 32:30 – Principle 4: Know the difference between a clear principle and a general ideal.
  • 35:35 – Principle 5: Preach against your natural tendency.
  • 37: 15 – Quick fire suggestions (Put application into your sermon headings / Frontload the application / Consider ‘minor aps’/ Illustrations can be the application/ Questions are powerful / Leave your notes / Listen to those who apply well).

An Application Disaster Class

 *Warning: this article may be laced with a heavy dose of sarcasm*

Welcome to my Disaster Class in the ‘art’ of preaching blunt sermons! Having been a regular practioner of pointless sermons, I am thoroughly qualified to coach those less initiated in these matters. Follow these steps and I personally guarantee you, your sermon application will at least be bad, if not be a total bust!   Bear in mind, too, that there are no less, or more, than seven points. Do I even need to say that you can trust this as the final word on the subject?

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1. Intepret the text wrong. This is a great place to start! As everyone knows, faithful application of the passage begins with faithful interpretation.¹ But this ‘study thing’ is a whole lot of work! So grab a latte, Preacher; close those headache-inducing commentaries. Stop sweating about those passages and what they mean! I reckon that 7 times out of 10, you’ll get the meaning of the passage right anyway with only a quick skim.

2. Ignore application or minimise it. The best bit about this one is that we can sound spiritual while doing less work! Assume then that the Spirit will do the application ‘for’ you. (Doesn’t the Spirit apply God’s Word to the human heart?²). If you must include application, why not consign it to being ‘tagged on at the end.’ Whatever you do, don’t see the whole message as a word from God to save, sanctify and equip people to serve! (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

3. Springboard quickly from the text to whatever you want to speak about. Is the subject prayer? Great! Leap off into a rant about whatever aspect of the church’s prayer life is bothering you at the moment!  Ignore what this specific text is saying about prayer. That way, your thoughts on prayer will be heard, not the Bible’s.

4. Be general, vague and samey in your sermon applications. Don’t allow the text to push you towards areas of application that are fresh or helpful. Especially stay away from applications that the church may not want to hear (hint: subjects like money, use of the tongue, anything to do with the heart). Keep the applications in a general territory! ‘Read your Bible’, ‘pray every day’ and ‘evangelise more’ are the basic touch points here. Or my personal favourite: just finish with the line… ‘Go and do likewise, Amen!’

5. Think that application always equals doing. You should always be able to tell people what to do, and how to do at. As prescriptively as possible! Let’s ignore that the New Testament itself is not always prescriptive in the how of application. And let’s conveniently forget that application involves our thoughts and desires, as well as our actions.

6. Let’s only apply in ways that suit our temperament. Are we the gentler, comforting type? Then tame those texts that seem a bit too challenging! Apologise to the congregation that the Bible might be a bit “heavy” or “strong” this morning. Are we an in-your-face, prophetic type? Are we never more happy than when wagging a finger? Then let’s find ways of turning even the most comforting texts into a “challenge.” Even Psalm 23 can be used to crush those wayward sheep (if we ignore its entire tone, content and purpose)!

7. Apply without any reference to Jesus. This is the most important point, if we want to completely undermine a sermon’s usefulness! Leave Jesus out when we apply the message, and people will be wondering whether they just sat through a Christian message at all! In addition, people will feel discouraged and overwhelmed. Having been dispirited in their failure to apply God’s word, they will have no gospel-comfort to lift them from despondency! Added into the bargain, they won’t know the encouragement and power that the gospel brings to our obedience. All in all, if you fail to do recommendations 1 to 6, just do 7 and you’ll render your sermon completely ineffective.

Yours truly,

The Pointless Preacher

 

¹ Though hopefully what you say will still be ‘biblically’ true – in a wider sense. 

² The Spirit, of course, applies God’s Word, but this didn’t stop New Testament preachers to calling for repentance, faith and obedience to specific commands.

Blessed Are The Critics

Shifting my weight from foot to foot, with all the uncertainty befitting a novice, I said goodbye to the faithful as they exited “the Chapel.”¹ I was dazed in the manner that every preacher is, five minutes post benediction – when you can’t compute where you are or quite how you got there.

I extended a sweaty hand to anyone feeling generous. What entered my grasp however was not a hand, but a note.

The stranger instantly scarpered, leaving me to uncrumple the curious parchment. In seconds I had read her raggedly written review:

“Too many points. Your headings – not distinct enough. You need to put in FAR MORE effort before you preach!” 

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For patently obvious reasons, that feedback has stuck in my unsticky memory. Yet on countless other occasions (‘at many times and in various ways’!) my sermons have been on the receiving end of critique.

What shall we say then?

Jars Of Clay

Let’s start by readily admitting that our sermons are often worthy of criticism. We’re not trying to get things wrong (indeed we’re all too aware of a stricter judgement upon bible teachers). But inevitably and often, we do fall short of the expository mark. It may be factual mistakes, interpretative errors² or some lack in clarity or delivery.³ God’s Word is perfect – his human messengers, not so much! 

Effusive praise of sermons then is almost always unwarranted  (praise is not the same thing as encouragement).  It’s probably also the case that many sermons aren’t as bad as some critics attest. The two common categories – ‘brilliant’ or ‘bad’ – are a far too frequent comment in the aftermath of sermons. In most evangelical churches, most sermons are faithful but fallible attempts to proclaim God’s gloriously infallible word. It is by God’s astounding grace that he uses such weak and feeble instruments as human preachers.

The Blessing Of Critics

So how might a sermon-critic be a blessing to the preacher of the word?

To begin with, they not only aid the herald’s preaching (sometimes); they encourage their sanctified progress  (always). How an expositor responds to criticism reveals not just the condition of their sermons, but their hearts. Pride, people-pleasing and placing my identity in ministry, are often graciously exposed when I chafe at a critical comment upon my preaching. Whether the critic is right or wrong is – in one sense – immaterial. What emerges from the sewer of my heart is often far more telling! 

Second, critics play their part because they help me assess the people to whom I am preaching. Biblical preaching is unchanging in content – but the context into which we preach is particular and variable. I need to know who I am speaking to. And for that, I need to listen. This means not just hearing feedback from the most theologically knowledgeable members, but from the average punter in the pew. Are they able to follow me? Is my preaching connecting with them?  (And if not, why not?). 

Further, when the same criticism comes from multiple people, my ears  tend to prick up. If a handful of people thought that illustration was unhelpful – or if several tell me that my conclusion went ’round and round’  – I will usually take that to heart and seek to learn from it.

I also try to bear in mind that when someone disagrees with an aspect of my sermon, they are not necessarily disagreeing with all of it! There’s a difference!

Building Up, Not Tearing Down

If we are the givers of feedback, how can we do it wisely?

a) I think it’s generally unhelpful to give strong critique in the immediate aftermath of a message. The preacher has just preached his soul out. In most cases, they have given God and the church their very best offering. They are exhausted, vulnerable and, don’t forget, human. It’s  good to bear this in mind if we’re planning on speaking the truth in love!  If we  offer critique, we should ensure that we say some positive things as well (if there are any!).

b) It’s worth considering too whether a criticism that could be given, always should be given. The wise parent will not ‘pick up’ on every infraction of a child. They know that there are times to cover over sin – for wisdom’s sake and sanity. And there are also times to check it. An overly long sermon conclusion, for example, may be a characteristic pattern – or it may just be a bad day at the office! A one-off story that seems to paint the preacher a bit too favourable might be the beginning of a pattern, or it may be just a one-off.

c) Be stronger in critiquing the substance of a message than the style. Not that style is unimportant but it is often linked to personality and preferences. We might not like non-linear sermons, without clear development of logic. We might struggle with preachers who are somewhat more Johanine than Pauline in their approach. But as long as the preacher is faithful to Christ and the text, we should critique their style farless than their substance. After all, we’re trying to encourage preachers; not create an army of ‘expository clones’! 

d) Pre-sermon feedback is even better than after the fact. Critique afterwards cannot improve the sermon preached! But evaluation before can lead to adjustments. This being the case, I often let my wife pre read my sermons. I also tend to’ ‘talk through’ my message with several other people during the week.

e) We need to examine our hearts when we’re giving critical feedback. Why are we doing it? Is it out of love for the person? Is it fortheir good and the congregations? Or am I trying to look clever, to put the preacher in his place, or avoid the challenge of the sermon?

The Feedback That Matters Most

There is a kind of feedback that we never ought to listen to. It’s that call to change the message because it seems too hard, too miraculous, too out of step with culture, or too narrowly exclusive. If the preacher preaches God’s Word, not everyone will want to hear them – and criticism will come. Yet we mustn’t see everyone as a devil who seeks to lovingly and truthfully critique!

And never forget too, that while we work hard at our sermons, we are not justified by them. The perfect homiletical construction never saved our soul, or anyone else’s. Sticking to Jesus and his word, the gospel in the Spirit’s power, is what will inevitably bring about the increase.


¹ Charlotte Baptist Chapel in Edinburgh.

² No less than Mark Dever tweeted this week that one of his elders picked him up on some interpretive errors he made in a sermon regarding John the Baptist. https://twitter.com/MarkDever/status/1168577165459431424?s=19

³ I once said in a sermon something along the lines of “God intends to harm you”, when I actually had meant to say “Satan.” In the context of what I’d been saying, it was hopefully clear to the congregation what I had meant. They were gracious. (And I only found out afterwards from my wife!)

Entering The Storm

I’m both daunted and excited to have begun a 6 part sermon series on Job with my church. These studies are likely to be moving, thought-provoking, but above all, I pray,  faith-strengthening. Here are some thoughts to help orientate us as we approach this book of darkness and storm.

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1. Job was a historical individual. Ezekiel and the New Testament say so (Ezekiel 14:14, James 5:11).

2. Job is highly poetic but it isn’t a parable. Like the flood account in Genesis, the description is highly stylised but the events are real.

3. The aim of Job is to equip God-fearers and God-trusters to go on fearing and trusting him when calamity comes. When they do so, this is wisdom (Job is part of the wisdom genre of bible books).

4. There are three main parts to Job: prose A (ch 1-2), poetry (ch 3 – 42:6), prose B (ch 42:7-17). The poetry reflects the long, emotional wrestle with suffering. It is long, because suffering isn’t easily untangled. The prose, though short, gives the context to the poetry.

5. The glimpses into the heavenly court (in ch 1 & 2) give the reader a key insight into things unseen. But these heavenly events are a mystery to Job. Key point: WE SHOULDN’T EXPECT TO KNOW THE REASONS FOR EVERYTHING WE SUFFER.

6. God is ultimately sovereign over all things. Satan is accountable to him and must ask for permission to harm Job. The Bible doesn’t present a Star Wars universe, but a cosmos in which God reigns over all things.

7. God’s ultimate control does raise some hard questions (eg. can God permit suffering and still be said to be good?). But let’s be clear on what the Bible insists in Job and elsewhere:

  • God is not the author of evil
  • God is good in all he does
  • God is able to superintend evil actions for his glory

8. What is more comforting: to think that God is not in complete charge, or to know that he is sovereign over every event and circumstance – even the most calamitous?

9. The heart of the book of Job is the question raised by Satan: does Job fear God for nothing? (1:9). The big question in Job is whether God is worthy of worship of fear, trust and love simply for being who he is.

10. Are we loyal to God only when he gives us what we want?

11. Little did Job know that his sufferings on earth was winning God a great victory in heaven over the forces of evil! Who knows what our sufferings are achieving in God’s purposes. Just because we cannot see a good purpose, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

12. Connections between Jesus and Job should be obvious: Jesus was the blameless/innocent sufferer – there was no one else like him on the earth. Satan and evil men afflicted him but it was God’s sovereign plan. When afflicted, Jesus trusted and feared the Lord without sinning.

13. One more point (since informed by Job, we don’t believe in ‘luck’): The stoic faith and worship of chapters 1 and 2 need to be seen alongside the harrowing cries and darkness of Job’s lament in chapter 3. Don’t think it is easy to trust God in the storm. But it is possible.