Truth is, I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary about my faith. I’ve had a lot of kind things said about it but there’s nothing special about me or my faith.
I guess that’s true of Job, too. We think of Job as this great icon of patience and faith – he hung in there and didn’t curse God despite everything in his life going you-know-where in a hand basket really, really fast. What makes Job an icon is that he kept his faith – not that his faith was particularly special.
Why is that so hard to do when troubles come? Well, for one thing, we don’t like trouble. If we had the power to keep our kids from ever having any trouble, most of us would do it in a heartbeat – and we don’t get why God doesn’t do the same for us. But our kids would never learn to ride bikes, or play music, or that, no, they really don’t have the talent for being the next Babe Ruth, or really, much of anything. With no trouble – no difficulty – there is no real learning. Trying and failing are part of the process – the part we don’t like but a part nonetheless.
Sure, God could have made the world differently – but He didn’t. Almost any utopia we imagine becomes a distopia pretty quickly. Creating a universe isn’t for the faint of heart – or limited mortal minds, for that matter. He did it the way He did for a variety of good reasons, some we can reason out for ourselves, some we can’t.
Okay, so we have to put up with some trouble – does it have to get so incredibly bad?
First off, Scripture warns us that life comes in size trouble. God intervenes – A LOT – to make it less awful than the mess we’ve really made of it. But if God took away all the tragedy – all the really bad things – would we come to understand that we need Him? Could we come to Him for salvation – or would we be forever lost after having nice, only slightly troublesome lives?
I don’t think we would begin to understand our need for God if life had no tragedy at all.
Paul tells us the present sufferings don’t compare to the glories to come. Kid, yes, the shot is going to hurt, but two hours from now when you are up to your eyeballs in ice cream, I promise you won’t care – and it will make you well again. Just like a loving father forces his kid to submit to a shot that hurts but saves his life, so too Our Father forces us through a temporary life of tragedy and suffering so that we can come to Him – and live eternally with Him.
We can’t see the future – that promised ice cream sounds good but it’s just an image in our heads right now – and a fuzzy one at that. We see the needle – we feel the pain – we don’t remember the ice cream… right then. But He is our Father – He will do what He said He will do – the ice cream is on the way.
So, we have to put up with some trouble. We have to know tragedy to know our needs. And this is all temporary – what is coming is ever so much better for those who trust Him. But how do you hang on like Job did?
First off, get the boy off the pedestal. Forty chapters of the Book of Job are NOT filled with a gentle old man scraping himself patiently with pot shards and looking forward to a Heavenly Ice Cream Social. Job gets downright TICKED. Angry with his well intentioned but way off the mark friends, angry with his wife who’s had enough, angry even with God – yes, Job gets mad with the Almighty Himself.
There’s a big difference between getting mad at someone and losing all respect for them – Job does the former, pretty forcefully, but never the latter. That’s why we admire his patience – not because he was some inhuman saint but because even ticked off, he doesn’t abandon the God he has loved and served his entire life. Even confused, in pain and near despair, Job doesn’t curse God – he doesn’t sin.
Wait, what? He got mad at God but that wasn’t a sin? Sin is rebellion against God – not transitory feelings of anger. Anger isn’t a sin – wallowing in it is. Job didn’t sin by getting angry – and he did the right thing by shutting up when he realized he had no idea what he was really talking about.
What makes Job an example for us is that he really is human – just like us. But even in his frailty, he gets that God is God and Job is not – it’s okay to ask God why – but we have to be ready to accept that God has the right not to answer the way we want Him to – if at all. That’s the hard part of following the Lord – He’s really Lord and Master – The God of the Entire Universe – and we have to accept Him as such. God doesn’t always answer the way we want – it’s His right.
That one’s the toughie to swallow. For me, I think there’s ample evidence in Scripture that even the stuff which makes no sense to us is still for our good. Paul’s discussion of potter versus clay makes it clear that God has the right to use us as He sees fit. But He sent His Son to die so that whomsoever believeth in Him might have life everlasting.
I can’t resolve that one for ya – but I see, like you do, through the smog of a fallen world, out of the eyes of a frail human and I interpret with a pea sized brain – atomic sized if we are comparing it to God’s and not too worried about how badly out of scale that would still be. I’m NOT God – I don’t know what He knows, can’t understand what He understands, can’t do what He does and yet, He loves me. Little bitty insignificant me.
When we see the new creation and God gets around to explaining this, I suspect we will wonder why we didn’t understand because it will make perfect sense. What seems conflictatory will be obviously compatible. But even if not – He’s still the Potter, I’m just a clay lump – one He has given a great gift. That gift – the love and grace of His Son – is worth it.
This, I think, is one of those ‘do you trust Me or not’ things – not something we are really meant to fully get – kinda like the Trinity – we can get the basic idea but can’t fully wrap our heads around Three Persons being One God.
99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of Scripture is fully ‘getable’ – it makes sense, is comprehensible and can be understood (so is algebra, doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at it sometimes). I wonder if God didn’t leave a few places where our side of the veil is not able to see clearly enough to really come to grips with what we are taught – just to give us the chance to grow our faith – by trusting Him to handle the hard stuff to our good.
For me, I have a God that loved me enough to send His Son to die in my place – I think He’s earned more than enough brownie points that I will trust Him even when I can’t make heads or tails of what He’s doing – or why. Like Job said, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
Tough love, tough trust – Great God. He can handle it – when I can’t tie the knot to hang on, He can and will.
So you see, I’m nothing special. I’m just a woman with too many pets, too many aches and pains and too much humanity. The thing I’ve got going for me is a wonderful God – One Who loved even me enough to send His Perfect Son so that even little lumpy me might be saved and have an everlasting life.
Me, and all who will believe in Him.