Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Job's God

Recently, 12 million viewers heard a man continuously pray to Jesus while walking a tightrope across a narrow stretch of the Grand Canyon.  He's being hailed by many Christians as the perfect example of what it means to "walk by faith and not by sight" (from the Apostle Paul).  But, I don't think that's what Paul had in mind at all.  Rather, the man was walking by sight.  He had his eyes open.  He had a balancing pole.  He had practiced the stunt in Florida.  Indeed, all of his sensory apparati were in full operation when he traversed the metal cable.  The stunt was a carefully choreographed event to be seen (not believed).  When Paul was talking about "walking by faith not sight," he was trying to explain why he believed in the resurrection of our bodies, that one day we will "put on immortality."  I've never seen this happen--when death loses its grip and resurrection swallows our mortal flesh.  Neither had Paul.  Rather, like him all that I see around me is life (the colors green and blue are everywhere) and death peaking it's ugly head out every once in a while.  But, whenever death shows his ugly face--I see it--it's strangely hard to believe what I don't see:  resurrection.

I hate death.

I've never been fond of Job's God.  Job, I like, even admire, but God doesn't come off very good to me in the ancient story.  Job is the epitome of what Paul meant:  despite everything he sees, he still believes.  Death shows up and ruins everything.  God tries to make amends:  telling everyone that Job didn't deserve what happened to him, giving Job a new family, new house, new possessions.  But, I don't like that part of the story at all.  It makes it sound like Job could be satisfied with another family, that he could be "bought off", that he would simply "thank God" for restoring what he lost.  But, read the story carefully:  that's not what Job says because that's not what God does.  Job didn't thank God.  God didn't restore what was lost.  That would be resurrection.

A week ago I watched my father-in-law die.  It was ugly.

Death, I hate you.

When we gathered for the funeral, my brother-in-law recounted what his father said when he found out he had terminal cancer, "Well, God never promised us we wouldn't have trouble on this side--only that we wouldn't have it on the other side."  And that was it.  My father-in-law never spoke of his illness again.  Every time we asked, "How are you doing?"  He would say, "Not very good."  He never complained.  Never lashed out at God.  Rather, he simply stated what we all could see.

Now, we are left to believe what we cannot see, what my father-in-law said:  we won't have trouble on the other side.  The only way God will restore what was lost is resurrection.  The ending of Job's story is not enough for me.

"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?"

Yes, Lord, though it's hard to see.

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