A confession (or three or four): Wednesday in the Word

Jane Austen ConfessionI have a confession to make. I am a romance writer who has never read Jane Austen. (Put away the torches and pitch-forks. It’s really not that serious.) One of my best writing friends heard my confession and exclaimed (and yes, I’m going to use an exclamation point here because there most definitely was one at the end of her declaration), “And you claim to be a romance author!”

Let me clarify. I don’t claim to be a romance author. I am a romance author. All six, soon to be seven, of my books fall into the Christian romance genre. They’ve sold and been read and reviewed. Whatever definition of author you might want to use, I think that qualifies me.

Giving in to her insistence that I “must” read at least something by Ms. Austen, I picked up Pride and Prejudice. (Never fear. No lessons on not giving in to peer pressure coming from me any time soon.) Now, I’ve watched Pride and Prejudice and a million holiday rewrites of the story. I’ve even watched Emma. I’m not completely ignorant of their plots and characters. Reading the story is completely different.

Confession number two coming up. I still don’t like Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t even finish it. After twelve chapters of every character being completely horrible, I had to put it away. Someone was backbiting, gossiping, and maligning other characters in every single scene. Every. Single. Scene. I couldn’t take it no matter how much fans of the book tell me there’s humor and sarcasm to be enjoyed in the story. I’ve got plenty of sarcasm of my own, thank you. I don’t need hers for my life to be complete.

And that brings me to confession number three. When the Bible study group I’m in began a precept study of Job, it felt a lot like trying to get through a Jane Austen novel. I didn’t like it. Really, I still don’t. I understand Job is a book few would say they actually enjoy. It’s pretty heavy subject matter. But it’s beyond simple lack of enjoyment for me. After the initial horrible things that happened to Job, there has been a predictable routine to what happens. Job laments. His friends say he brought it on himself through unconfessed sin. Job denies and laments. His friends say he’s brought it on himself through unconfessed sin.

Next chapter? More of the same. I’m not sure why we needed this constant back and forth of the exact same thing. For me, it grows tiresome. I do admit there are some great phrasing choices at times, but it’s still the same thing over and over.

It’s time for my final confession. Though Job will never be my favorite book, and I’ll probably never deep dive into it again, there are many nuggets of truth in the discourse that point to other scriptures that I really do enjoy. Just in chapters 29-31, those in the study found correlations to the following passages.

Psalm 1. I love that Psalm.

Luke 15. Job is as despised by his friends as the prodigal was his.

Matthew 5. The sermon on the mount is one of Jesus’ most familiar teachings.

Psalm 119:105. Who isn’t comforted knowing God’s word lights their way?

2 Corinthians 1:4. It doesn’t ease the pain we go through but gives hope that God will use it in us.

These are just a few of the scriptures our reading of Job 29-31 brought to mind. They are passages we relate to and love. They are familiar and comforting and challenging all rolled into one. And they were brought to mind through reading Job.

While I didn’t make it through Pride and Prejudice, I fully intend to finish Job. I may have missed a few weeks throughout the study due to life interfering with my schedule, but I will finish. And, one last confession. Job may never be my favorite book of the Bible or even one I’ll return to in the near future. (No, that’s not the confession). But by looking at the scriptures the events and dialogue bring to mind, I have found hope, encouragement, and challenge in between all the repetitive arguments of Job and his so-called friends.

Has God ever surprised you with hope, encouragement, or challenge in an unexpected place?

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