Thursday, November 25, 2004

Pharisaic thanks

Tronster told me the other day that Job is the book that is good to go to when our lives are crappy. And he is right. The strange thing is that he told me this in his "fireroom" at our Towson pre-Thanksgiving link group.

Thanksgiving is a time when we think of the good times. We remember the past turkey days with nostalgia. Ours eyes get glossy as the Tryptophan runs its course and our bloated stomachs bulge through our pants. For most of us, Thankgiving is good reason not to read Job.

It got me thinking. Here I am focusing my mind on the whole story of Job. And it sits in stark contrast to the holiday season. This guy lost everything. And he lost it for no good reason. It seems like Satan and God went to Vegas and decided to do some gambling on the life of Job. I wonder what the odds were. Probably two to one.

In the end, Job did some complaining but he never cursed God much to the dismay of his own wife. His plight wasn't from any sin of his own regardless of what his friends said. And his misery was not for the purpose of strengthening his character, as Jobs youngest friend claimed. We never really find out why God allowed Job to go through such pain. We don't know why he lost all that he had. All we know is that Job was closer to the truth than his friends and that God blessed him doubly after it was all said and done.

I guess I can read Job and be thankful. Much like the Pharisee, I can praise God that I am not like "that guy." I can be thankful that I don't have to sit in a corner and scratch sores off my arm with a piece of pottery. I can thank God that my ten children weren't all taken in one day and that all my wealth wasn't destroyed in a storm. But who wants to do that?

No one wants to read Job on Thanksgiving. And especially not on Christmas. We don't want to be reminded of the seemingly pointless suffering in this world. We want to believe that God has a purpose for all it. But Job doesn't say that. Job simply reminds us that God is all powerful and sovereign. We are reminded by reading that He is God and we are not. We are not comforted by promises of double blessings or by the promise that "everything will be ok." We are only told of the awesome and fearsome power of the Almighty.

The odd thing is that for Job, that was enough. When he faced the magnitude of Yahweh he had no more complaining to do. He simply repented in dust and ashes. Though he seemingly had every right to curse God, let alone complain, he didn't. After facing the the Creator, he was done. He would be content scratching his puss filled sores in his cardboard box with no progeny to follow.

So what am I thankful for? Am I just thankful that I don't have "too much" suffering in my life? Am I just thankful for the blessings that I do have in my life? What happens when blessings leave and the pain comes? Will I still be thankful? Can I be thankful in God alone? I have to ask myself, "Is it enough that God has called me his child?" Does that reality outweigh all the tangibles in my life?

And maybe that is why Job was blessed by God in the end. I think most of us would laugh in the face of God. We would demand and explanation. We would demand a purpose to our suffering. A purpose that we would understand. For most of us, or maybe just for me, God is hardly enough.


Post a Comment

<< Home