Archive for January 4th, 2007

Where Were YOU?

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Job 38:1-7 and 42:1-6 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

Whenever anything adverse happens in our lives, our first question is usually, “Why did God let this happen?” The question arises from our natural desire to want to understand. When we can’t, we sometimes begin to question whether God cares — or even exists.

This is precisely where Job found himself. Job had experienced monumental tragedy: he lost all of his children in a natural disaster, then lost his own health. The book of Job records his quest to make sense of it all. Ultimately he can’t, and his faith is in jeopardy.

That’s when God steps in. After Job has asked all his questions — “Why? Why? Why?” — God’s response, in essence, is, “You’re too dumb to understand!” Granted, God’s language is more diplomatic than that, but basically that’s the point. For chapters on end, Job has been demanding to know why. Having listened to this endless questioning, it seems as if God is exasperated.

“Now I’m going to ask you some questions!” God says. What follows in chapters 38, 39, 40, and 41 is a long litany of questions about creation and reality. For example, God asks Job:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you know so much.”

“Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?”

“And by the way, where is the way to the dwelling of light?”

Obviously, Job has no clue. No human — even the most brilliant — can comfortably comprehend the wonder of creation, the mystery of death, or the nature of light. To this day, scientists are forced to use inherently contradictory theories to explain the behavior of light.

When God ends this litany of questions, Job has gotten the point. Job says, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know.” Job finally understands that finite human beings can never hope to fully comprehend the nature of a reality designed by an Infinite Being.

In his own search for faith, a search that ultimately led him to Christ, mathematician Blaise Pascal reached the following conclusion:

“There is nothing so consistent with reason as the denial of reason. For reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.”

Really smart people understand how much they will never know. Although they still strive to understand as much as possible, they don’t base their faith on their ability to rationalize every single act of God. God gives us enough “evidence” to reasonably believe, but there are many mysteries that we will not understand until we are elevated out of our limited human existence.

“Now I know only in part. Then [in the next life] I will know fully.” I Corinthians 13:12.

When I finally came to realize this in my own personal spiritual journey, I stopped “chasing my tail” and was freed from the impossible task of understanding everything. I still have lots of questions. I still take logic as far as it will carry me. But when I’ve gone as far as I can and yet fall short of understanding, my faith is not at risk.

Thought for the day: It only makes sense that a cosmos designed by an Infinite Being will be perplexing to a finite being. Stop chasing your tail!

Today, let’s join together in prayer for: Jesus MCC’s network of Oasis Groups and the group leaders. Two new groups kick off in January, and several resume after a holiday break.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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