Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mr. Beaver

I've been reading Job. Actually, I've been listening to it on CD, but that counts I think, especially since that how the first several millennia of God's people would have accessed the book. It's remarkable to hear it aloud--things fit together in whole new ways. Anyway, Ron Allen thinks the goal of the book is to demonstrate that God is free. He does as he wills. The wicked suffer, yet so do the righteous and both are sometimes blessed. "Why" isn't answered. I'm not sure it can be. God chooses, that seems to be all we're given, except for the ever-important caveat so well understood by Mr. Beaver: He is good.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately--this idea of sovereignty and the way my impression of it has changed quite a bit. After all, God claims outright in his words to Moses in Exodus 4 that it is he who makes man deaf or mute or seeing or blind. He tells us in Job 38 that the lightning reports to him. We don't really believe this. We work really hard to understand a hurricane in the Gulf or an earthquake in Kashmir. We want to believe God would judge with one but not the other. We want to believe he had nothing to do with it. We'll accept his hand if we can see a reason. But we don't get a reason. The lightning reports to him. He doesn't owe us a reason.

Do you remember a coach or teacher or leader who ever pushed you past your breaking point? Do you recall a time when you could take no more and then you took more and you were angry and even a little bitter. But, you looked back later and saw that not only did you not break, you excelled? Suddenly, months later, you noticed that you don't get tired after the first mile or you understand more than you ever realized or you accomplished something you hadn't imagined? Then, that person became your favorite coach, your favorite teacher.

How come we get so bent out of shape when God does exactly that and he spends much of his Word telling us that he's going to do it? We whine every time, only we don't get over it so easy. We may not ever see the result. Practice doesn't end. Class doesn't dismiss. Life is practice. Only when it ends will we finally understand. Maybe the bitterness will last until then, but it will someday go away. Someday, this ends and He will become our favorite teacher. Maybe He is already...

8 comments:

andy said...

lightning is pretty scary, I'm not going to lie...

Mary Ann said...

what 'she' are you talking about? I'm confused. And I didn't mean to delete any comments if I did. I believe you might have lost me. ;-)

murph411 said...

Are you suggesting that God did send the hurricanes? That is His way of teaching/shaping humanity?

I have a tough time thinking God is more concerned with "humanity" than He is individuals. I'm not sure that is what your saying/suggesting but if it is then that is a tough pill to swallow.

Is it possible that we live in a world that is decaying because sin entered in?

Just thinking out loud here...

Steve said...

I'm just saying our Bible is full of examples where God was responsible for the destruction of entire peoples. I think he cares about individuals and peoples--sometimes he tells us why and other times he doesn't. At the very least, he does choose whom he will save and that's not really very different.

After the bus bombings in London, I heard some folks explain how God had diverted their travel plans and kept them off one of the buses they were initially planning to be on, thus they were spared. Publicly, we thank God for saving us from those moments and by doing so, we declare that he chose not to save the others.

By his own words, the lightning must report to him--it does not go out without his permission. Neither did Satan bring harm to Job without God's allowance. Yet for Job, it was not so much a test for him as it was validation that Job's love was sincere. However, Job never knew that. As readers, we get to see the reason for that one, but Job only knows he has done nothing wrong and yet he suffers. He suffered for God's own ends. I know it's difficult, but God is free to do that and yet he remains God and merciful even if suffering is sometimes part of the package here.

I think Christians died in New Orleans and probably in the earthquakes as well. And yet, many did not. Sometimes it happens because it is a fallen planet. Sometimes God brings it himself. Pharaoh was raised up that God's power might be shown. Judas was appointed. Saul was given over. Romans 9:18. "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." In the end, there is suffering and God sometimes has mercy. Sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he sends it. We don't know which and when and why and we are in error to try just as Job's friends were. As Ron Allen says, the better question is "in the midst of it, how can I worship him and remain sincere?" Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Hankinstien said...

Thats why Habbakukk is so great and so difficult. As someone who fancies himself an "intellectual," I'm always trying to wrap my head around why God does all this stuff, or why he "allows" certain things to happen. In reality, we probably won't know the answers to most of those "why" questions until we're in heaven, and maybe not even then.

Ironically, Comedy Central had an interesting point--commenting on Bush's suggestion to pray for hurricane victims, Jon Stewart said, "Pray? Wasn't this an act of God?" This isn't to suggest that God wanted people to die, or wishes calamity on us, but rather, that for whatever reason, he didn't stop it. He let it happen, maybe even did cause it. Of course I'm not saying to not pray for those people, but that comment really made me think about the fact that God has this big design in mind that we don't know much about--parts of that plan involve bad things, like hurricanes. And thats ok. Its one of the things that makes him God. If I totally understood everything about Him, then He's not as cool, somehow.

I'll go a step further--Being mad at God for some calamity, although understandable, is ultimately bad logic. Otherwise, everyone would have completely perfect lives. If complete perfection (what would that even LOOK like?) is what it would take for us to believe in God, then we're not thinking correctly--because existing in a physical world means that there is possibility that bad stuff could happen. I might stub my toe--because I am a physical entity, and so is the curb. That is a requirement for existence--if we take away the possibility for bad stuff to happen, then we either don't exist, or we are all robots with no free will. I'm not comfortable with the latter, and since I've never not existed that I can remember, I can't really make that call.

Ok, I think that went somewhere off of what I originally intended to say. Looks like I got existential again...

and I don't know how to spell Habakkuk...

murph411 said...

If God's character never changes then why is it so difficult to predict what He will and/or won't do? His Word speaks of His character a good deal. Is it that we don't understand His character even with the Word's guidence or that we don't understand His Word and thus His character?
Although I don't want to serve a God that I can totally figure out I also would like to serve a God that I don't have to wonder whether He is going to protect me or not. Good thing I'm old enough that my wants won't hurt me.
I guess I'm not there yet on the "Sometimes God brings it Himself". I do see a lot of that in the OT but when I do it has to do with punishment or correction. How do we know when He sends it or when it is because we live in a fallen world? Or does that question even matter? I guess it probably matters more to my seeking friends who are not believers yet. I just don't know that in this age He still "sends it". I actually haven't thought deeply or studied about this; I'm thinking outloud or typing outloud or... whatever.

Steve said...

It's tough, I agree, but I don't think we get to tell the difference. Sometimes I think being real about how difficult the issue of suffering realy is actually helps our friends. We've pretended that the answer is nice and neat and it's not. Sometimes, I think it's better to ask "What is God doing about suffering now?" He's busy redeeming souls, until he finally ends it all.

deersnake said...

This is all good stuff here. Quite deeper than my topics of wings vs. drums - the debate rages on.

We're talking, in part, about God's plan. While on earth, how can we understand or explain it? Every time I try to wrap my mind around it, I'm left feeling infinitesimal.

But we don't stop trying and it is great when God gives us a nugget of what His plan is for us.