(Originally posted on April 05, 2012)
A few weeks ago, I was attending Reading Family Church, which is my church-away-from-home. This particular service was unusual because the pastor had decided to split time between normal worship/sermon and a time for people to go up and be prayed over by various church leaders.
Like I mentioned in earlier posts, emotionally engaged has been incredibly exhausting for me for the past while. To cope with this (especially in an wonderfully engaging congregation like Reading Family), normally while I’m at church I have the Me and then I have the Me With Garbage At A Deeper Level We’ll Just Keep This Bit Locked Up. Not like pretending to worship, because I really do. It’s just that there’s another part of me I’m talking down, like, “That’s too heavy to deal with right now, so I’m just going to worry about that later.”
So the second half of the service comes around, and I wasn’t planning to go up. Then the pastor talked about the crippled man who Jesus commanded to stretch out his hand and be healed, and I was like, “Well, I think that might be my cue.” But I was still hesitating because I just didn’t want to risk opening that door. I watched most of the church go up, and was wishing I could go pray for all those people with their problems, but I found myself really averse to being prayed over. And in my heart over and over I felt like God was saying, “Why? Why won’t you let me bless you?”
(Originally posted on April 04, 2012)
Before we go on: Who had less belief? The friends who could not comprehend God letting bad stuff happen, or Job, the man who questioned God outright? The man who lost everything and demands an answer, or the men who appear have all the answers?
God didn’t get on to Job about talking. I used to think that. But when I read it now, I really do think God was inviting a discussion. He never sounds upset or angry—if anything, he only gently rebukes Job by giving him a wider perspective. But he does outright call the friends idiots. So I’d say Job has more faith. Spoiler alert, but my theory is supported because after Job and God talk, God says He’ll forgive Job’s friends if Job will pray for them.
So I guess it’s okay to wrestle with hard questions, instead of hiding from the questions behind liberalism and false righteousness.
But now on to the main point: In the face of God’s defense—which isn’t so much a defense of the action, but more a testimony of God’s character—how do you go on believing?
(Originally posted on April 03, 2012)
“He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God,” reads the prelude to Elihu’s speech. Know what’s funny? When I first read the book, I liked Elihu the best. He seemed right on. But one of the few things we’re told about him is that he answered in anger, rather than love or compassion. We don’t get to hear anything else aside from him talk for a while after that because he lets no one butt in, but keeps telling people to shut their trap and listen to him. Very mature, Mr. Youngest-in-the-Group. But maybe I should give him grace. He did sit through Job and the old guys going back and forth for quite some time before he started talking. That would probably be enough to try any young man’s patience. But really, this kid takes it too far.
(Originally posted on March 29, 2012)
“Is not calamity for the unrighteous
and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
Does he not see my ways
and number all my steps?”
Most of Job is about conflicts. Below I’ve divided the major conflicts (as I see them) into their own categories. For some, I’ve just let Job do the talking. For others I’ve tried to dive in a bit myself.
(Originally posted on March 28, 2012)
In the face of Job’s loss, the friends have no answers. They try to defend God by saying Job must not be in the right.
Why? Because it’s unthinkable, unbelievable, incomprehensible, that something so terrible would happen to a righteous man. I wonder how often the Christian has pointed the finger to protect himself/herself from unbelief, instead of offering true comfort. As Job says, “For [my friends] have now become nothing; [they] see my calamity and are afraid.”
(Originally posted on March 27, 2012)
When I first read through Job, at twelve or thirteen years old, I couldn’t stand it. He’d just go on and on and on, and his friends would call him out on it, but then he’d just go on some more. I thought the youngest friend, Elihu, was the real hero of the tale. I thought Job was a sinner for thinking his problems were a big deal. When God showed up and snapped a bit, I was glad Job was finally getting his comeuppance. I felt like God could’ve at least taken away his ability to speak and given us all a break.
When Dr. Hill, my Old Testament professor, told the class that Job was an answer to the Health and Wealth theology, I perked up. What’s this? That’s not the story I was familiar with!
But I hadn’t actually sat down and reread the book until that dark night. And what I found as I read shocked me.
(Originally posted on March 26, 2012)
I want to talk about the journey I’ve been taking with Job. But first, I think I need to give some backstory.
I think it’s important to say before I begin that I don’t know if all I’m going to discuss is “sound” spiritual stuff. I don’t think it’s all Sunday School perfect. Not everything I discuss or say is what I truly believe, but it’s all stuff I’ve been working through. This blog is really about the journey—about honestly sharing what I am going through, happy and sad, in the hopes that it might help someone else, or at least encourage discussion. So this in an honest portrayal of what has been one of the most spiritually challenging times in my life so far.