Skip to main content

Maybe


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.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Divine | Shame | Humans

Shame is often the only thing between our creator and us. Our reading this week is from Job 14:5-6: A person’s days are determined;      you have decreed the number of his months      and have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone,      till he has put in his time like a hired laborer. Job is struggling with shame and judgement.  He is wondering why God is spending time paying attention to him, a tiny speck in the great universe, a blink of an eye in all eternity.  Why would God waste time casting a glance at us, let alone fostering us, raising us, and disciplining us?  He cries out "Why won't God just let us be, to live out our miserable existence?" A friend shared a post with me on Facebook this week.  It was a video of her dog who had stolen her donut.  The dog had been under the bed for two hours before she started the video.  The video begins with a clear view of the dog and the uneaten donut under the bed.  The dog casts glances from s

Justice & Privilege

The narrative lectionary reading for this week begins a 5 week series on the book of Job.  We focus on Job 1:1-12.  This first section sets the background for the parable.  It is important to note that this is clearly a parable, not a historical text.  This means we must look beyond the described events and towards a deeper meaning within the text.   The story goes like this: ___ There was once a man who thought he was good, an upright citizen, a religiously devout man.  He made good choices and avoided all forms of evil.  He was so pious that he made sacrifices in the name of his family members in case they had unknowingly sinned.  He had great wealth and privilege, and so this was evidence of his goodness.   God was so pleased with this great man, named Job, that he bragged about him to the accuser.  The accuser objected "Of course Job is good, you have provided him with wealth, power, and protection. He would curse you if he was not so privileged."  At this, God takes the

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t