Skip to main content


Our Reading this week is from Job 38.  Job, after suffering in every imaginable way, has called out God, crying "Why!?".  This chapter is a portion of God's response:

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth? Tell me if you have understanding." - Job 38:4 (ESV)

God continues to challenge Job with the mysteries of the world.  How it was created, the boundaries of the oceans, the movement of the sun and stars, where the light comes from, or where the winds are dispersed.  As you observe the conversation it may be easy to think that God is mocking Job, but God is really just showing Job that the world is complicated, that his question is complicated, and the answer is beyond him.  God is demonstrating some of the complexities of the things that Job has some understanding of, as an example of how Job could not understand the answer to his own question.  

I remember my daughter asking me complicated scientific questions, that she could never wrap her head around at her age.  I refused to give placating or passive answers.  If she asked, I told her, somehow thinking she may not understand, but she would maybe learn to love science.  When she was three she asked why the sky was blue.  I went into a complicated answer about how light from the sun comes in contact with the atmosphere.  She stared at me blankly, and walked away before I finished explaining.  Is giving an answer that cannot be understood really any better than not giving an answer?  Our pride tells us yes, but in reality, is it just because we think we are smart enough to understand? 

There is an old Zen parable that demonstrates this concept well. One day a farmer's horse ran away.  When his neighbors heard they came to visit saying "Oh, such bad luck, we are so sorry".  The farmer replied "Maybe".  The next day the horse returned with 3 wild horses.  The neighbors came to visit saying "Oh, how wonderful!".  The farmer replied "Maybe".  The next day the farmer's son tried to ride one of the wild horses.  He was thrown off and broke his leg.  The neighbors offered their sympathy "Oh no, such a tragedy".  The farmer said "Maybe".  The following day the military arrived in the village to draft the youth into the army.  Since the son's leg was broken they passed over him.  The neighbors came to celebrate "Oh, what a joy, what a blessing!".  The farmer said "Maybe".  

God, when we suffer, as Job did, help us to understand.  When we can't understand, help us to accept it, as the farmer in that old parable did.  When we encounter others who suffer, help us to listen, and avoid talking about things we don't understand, like Job's friends did.  May we be good listeners, and let our "doing" have more to do with actions of justice than empty words.  


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

The Return Threshold

  As we come near the end of our weekly series on the Hero's Journey, today we will cover "The Return Threshold".  In this stage, the Hero has succeeded in their quest and now they are coming back to their old world.  Joseph Campbell calls this the "ordinary world".   The return to the ordinary world usually includes some type of challenge.  Sometimes an enemy must be challenged, but sometimes the enemy is the ordinary world itself.  As we have followed the hero's journey we have seen the hero change, what was once important is no longer important.  While the hero has changed, the ordinary world has not.  The ordinary world holds values that the returning hero has abandoned for something greater.  This can cause tension as the hero tries to return as a changed person. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we see the Hobbits finally return to their home in the Shire.  Unfortunately in their absence Saruman and his orcs have taken over the Shire and must be defeat

Master of Two Worlds

  This week we come to the second to last stage of the Hero's Journey.  Campbell called this stage "The Master of Two Worlds".  In this stage, the hero tries to integrate what they learned and gained on their journey with their old "ordinary" world.   Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."  This explains the challenge the hero must face in this stage.  All that they learned and gained must be fully mastered and the test of this mastery is being able to use it in the ordinary world.  They must simplify it so that the uninitiated can benefit from it, just as Einstein encouraged the mastery of complex ideas into simple explanations.   In the Star Wars Trilogy, this stage happens off-screen after the film is over, but before the new movie begins.  We learn in the newest trilogy that Luke created a school for Jedi, taking the wisdom he gained from his journey and sharing it with others.  In