Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Toggle switch

I’ve spent the day driving around, cleaning winter’s muck out of my garden, and muttering to myself about the sheer existence and nature of God. I’ve been having some “issues” with the Lord. It used to seem that my relationship with him was like a light switch—on or off. I was either lying at his feet, praying and worshipping, or I was ignoring him because his being seemed so implausible. I’m much more mature now, more sophisticated (that’s a joke!) because I now see many more variations in my relationship with him—more like a toggle switch than simply on/off.

I believe in him, but sometimes that almost makes it more difficult. I believe but I wonder how a loving father can let his children live in a world that is filled with so much pain. Why are pain and suffering, fear and turmoil, cruelty and depair such a big part of our humanity?

So I’ve been reading the Book of Job to try to understand what God has told us about the nature of suffering. And I still don’t get it. Why did God even take the bait when the adversary (Satan) got him to test Job’s righteousness? Why didn’t God just tell the adversary to go back to hell where he belonged? And what about Job’s alleged friends? A lot of help they were. Job’s children died along with all of his animals then he got herpes all over his body and he scraped at it with broken glass. Yet he wouldn’t curse God. If I get a splinter wedged under my fingernail I might come close to cursing God, but Job didn't.

The only answer is that human suffering is something we cannot understand because God is God and we are not. Job says, “He is not a man like me that I might answer him.” (Job 9:32) Job has no logical explanation for his suffering, but he doesn't lose faith in God. Where does that kind of faith come from?

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