Does God Respond When We Suffer?
In the months that I’ve been doing the Twible, there have been a few times when the Twible entries have spoken to a situation in my own life. That’s never been more true than now, as I push through the Book of Job.
I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that there is a key area of my life that is very difficult right now, even hopeless. At least, it often feels hopeless. Over the last few weeks, as I’ve been preparing and posting these entries on the Book of Job, I’ve reflected a fair amount on suffering. Although God didn’t kill my kids, smite me with boils, or curse me with “friends” who try to finger me with the blame for all my problems, I can certainly identify with Job’s suffering. The book’s main message is to affirm the reality that much of life can be shattering.
Job’s response to his predicament was to sue God for abandonment. The chapters we’re getting into now read like a Law & Order episode, where Job is a prosecuting attorney amassing evidence and presenting his case. He insists that he’s blameless in the eyes of the law and doesn’t deserve his cruel fate, and interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t disagree (Job 1). Job is presented as a righteous, pious man who doesn’t deserve his terrible circumstances.
Adding insult to injury are his three “friends,” whose conventional be-good-and-God-will-reward-you belief system just can’t accommodate the cognitive dissonance they feel when presented with Job’s situation. They accuse him of being unrighteous (ch. 11) and of neglecting the poor (Job 22). Finally they tell him that his angry theological questions make them uncomfortable, and he should quit his kvetching (ch. 15).
Other people’s suffering often makes us nervous. We long for answers, not only to understand why life is so painful, but (let’s be honest here) to try the best we can to make sure that the cup of suffering passes us by. Which talisman will protect us? What’s the magic formula for a pain-free life?
I don’t have any magical formulae, and I don’t know why we suffer. Years of theological education have only taught me that sooner or later, everyone does suffer. And if God speaks, it is from the whirlwind.
At the moment I do not have ears to hear.
#Twible overview of Job: I’d tell you about Job, but man, my boils are itchy. Also, my kids all snuffed it & G’s AWOL. Waaaaah. Why me? Why?
#Twible Job 1: “The Satan” makes Bible debut; looks Job up on “The Google.” Is Job REALLY that pious? Let’s kill his 10 kids & find out!
#Twible Job 2: Job still won’t curse G, so Satan ups ante by giving Job boils on his skin. Surely now the guy’ll crack. Literally.
#Twible Job 3: Now entering 40+ chapters of poetry. (FYI: Job rhymes w/robe, not mob.) Job’s finally cursing G… but now w/ onomatopoeia!
#Twible Job 4: With friends like these, who needs Friends of Job? (FOJs) FOJ #1 says, “Dude, this is all yr fault. You reap what you sow.”
#Twible Job 5: FOJ #1 cont: “Happy are those the Lord disciplines!” Easy for you to say, Mr. Smug. You’re not childless & covered in boils.
#Twible Job 6: Job: “Gee, did you also bring salt & lemon to rub into my open sores, here, people? Talk about blaming the victim. Sheesh.”
#Twible Job 7: Job talks to G like his friends aren’t really there. (They never listen anyway, so it’s OK.) “G, just let me croak already.”
#Twible Job 8: FOJ #2 insists that good people always get rewarded and bad people always get punished. He learned that at the movies.
#Twible Job 9: Job: “Once more for the hearing impaired: I’m blameless. Really. This isn’t punishment for sin!” But FOJs don’t get the memo.
#Twible Job 10: Job: “Woe is me. G, I’m hauling your ass to court for abandonment. My life sucks and it’s not my fault. Where’s Judge Judy?“
#Twible Job 11: FOJ #3 tells Job to stop blaspheming & start IDing where he sinned. If he repents, everything’ll be peachy again. Promise!
#Twible Job 12: Job belts country ballad about being a laughingstock, but follows up w/praise song about G’s terrible power. Kinda schizo.
#Twible Job 13: Job: “OK, that’s it. I’m lawyering up. But you 3 clowns will NOT represent me w/your cute aphorisms. The door is that way.”
#Twible Job 14: Deep Thoughts about death: We’re like those leaves that trickle down, only to be sucked up by the Great Leaf Blower of life.
#Twible Job 15: FOJ #1: “Job, you’re undermining Mom, religion, tradition, and green bean casserole. You make me nervous w/ your questions.”
#Twible Job 16: Job: “Can I just say that you 3 stink as comforters? You talk, talk, talk, but do you even care? Wait, don’t answer that.”