Ugh, I am so tired, but I can’t go to bed. I wahsed my sheets today, and they didn’t dry, so I am waiting for the dryer to finish it’s thing.

Recently I read Job, and it was confusing. The first and only other time I read it was a few years ago, when a friend (who was two years younger than me) recommended it. It was the first time I had even heard of it. I didn’t really understand the book much but I pretended I did.

Well reading it again a couple of weeks ago really thew me off. For anyone who doesn’t know, Job is a book in the bible about this man who is really benevolent, loving and God fearing, but God takes away everything from him and Job suffers heaps. And stuff. I can’t really condense all the aspects of Job into a sentence. The problem I have is that so often people do try to condense Job into a sentence, and that is why I have been so confused. In the years since I have read it, I have heard people use Job to very simply sum up an aspect of suffering – often conflicting aspects of suffering. They say Job symbolises the right approach to suffering. They say he symbolises the wrong approach to suffering. They say it shows that God is gracious. They say it shows that God is actually evil.

So actually reading it again, I had no idea how to approach it. I read it twice, I tried taking notes. I ended up buying a commentary. And it is sooo good. If anyone has trouble understanding Job, borrow it off me, because it helps you work out what is going on, and helps you break out of the one sentence summaries of Job that everyone is always giving.

Anyway, I thought I’d share something cool that I read from it yesterday:

Coleridge once criticised many christians for believing not in God himself but in their beliefs about him. Great suffering puts an end to belief in beliefs.

It took me awhile to process that. I mean, In some ways, God and what you believe about God are the same thing. It sounds pretty postmodern. You know God because of His character, you are believing Him because of what you believe His characetr to be.

But I guess that is what is so unhealthy. God is more than what we characterise him as. I realise that I have been doing that. Especially over this last week, I have been struggling a lot with God and what I expect from him. How embarassing. I expect that I will get stuff from God, when he is God and I am just like grass, my glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but I still expect that God, whose word lasts forever, will just keep giving. He has already given his own life, but I just want more, I want meaning and clarity in my life, I want comfort, I want understanding. I just expect he will give it to me, because I believe that about his character. And when I don’t get what I expect, I get frustrated at God. It’s turned from me wanting to serve God into him not living up to my standards. Ow. Blaspheming if I have ever heard it.

In our year 7 youth group, one of our nights is called “God in a Box”. It’s fun. We play lots of games with boxes and we have a talk on how the Israelites reduced God to the ark – basically a good luck charm that would win battles for them. We teach the kids that God is not like Santa Claus. The kids learn that it is wrong to treat God as a gift giving machine, to only ever talk to him when we want a new bike, or a dog, or a playstation or whatever else is trendy for kids these days. I realise now that what we “mature” christians do is no different. Our expectations of comfort, companionship, health, wealth – even clear spiritual understanding – are just like these kids’ expectations. And if they don’t come through, and our faith is only in our belief that “God will give these things because that is what He does”, we give up on Him because it’s just not worth it. We sort of forget that God is, well, God.

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18 thoughts on “

  1. tibbycat

    hey hey, I didn’t “go to bed and read the bible” like I said I was going to when I got off the phone. Instead I continued reading about the mafia for an hour. Urgh. Interesting, but tired now.

    Anyway, just wanted to say something in response to your entry here cause I’ve been thinking a lot about Job, suffering, and the ‘magical God concept’ a bit myself recently. I’ll bring tomorrow night, if I’m there, a book I finished reading last night (The Gospel of Peanuts) that talks about this stuff in relation to Job. What it says on this made some sense, but it also confused me somewhat and left me wanting to have a greater understanding of these issues. I’d be most interested in borrowing your commentary on Job if you’re not busy with it. When I read through Job the other month ago, I read it in my bible with the commentary but I felt that the brief commentary in my bible didn’t do an adequate job of completely explaining these major theological issues contained in Job such as suffering, pain, our expectations of God, etc etc.

    right, to the shower now I go.. !

    Reply
  2. skywaters

    The reason why (IMO) so many christians fall short of so much greater prospect is because we believe christianity is a religion, NOT a way of life.

    Christianity isn’t about rules and doing things and beliving beliefs. It’s about going out and being Christ-Like, believing in God, having faith in Him and ultimately being the closest we can be to the Father

    Reply
    1. Alison Post author

      😛 I knew you’d get riled.
      There is an example of how a biblical concept can’t be condensed into one sentence. Obviously God told them to make an ark for Him, and He was certainly working through it (like in Samuel ch 5). I can’t remember what passages we use, but the talk is about how the Israelites only paid attention to God when they wanted Him to win a battle or something. If you are really anxious about this, I can get Em to find the passage for you, she did the talk last year.

      Reply
  3. woodwell

    oh everything you say is so good and so lovely and right, but you have to have to remember that God does WANT to give you things, it says it so plainly in the Gospels, he wants to give you spiritual gifts! He is not a gift giving machine (playstation etc) but he IS a gift giving machine (prophecy etc).

    It even says it in Job, after the suffering Job gets given more cattle than he had before, more sons and beautiful daughters.

    I gues i just want to make sure that you are not throuwing the baby out with the bath water. I just want to make sure you know that God does want to give you great things in life. But also to remember that you are right and we can’t treat him like a belief and not like a man. because he is so much more than all of everything…

    Reply
    1. Alison Post author

      Yeah, you are right. Especially when you think about the stuff Jesus said in Matthew 7 about asking and it will be given to you etc.
      I guess I was just at a point where I thought I knew better than God what was good for me. Or I thought I knew what God thinks is good. And it was frustrating when things were going a different way.

      Reply
      1. woodwell

        i think i am at that point every day of my life, and there is nothing i enjoy and hate more than realising i’m not in control of anything adn that if i was, the world would be a terrible place.

      2. tibbycat

        I think that’s something I really struggle with too. And it’s a bit of a confused paradox in my head at the moment that I haven’t quite worked out. Maybe I never will. I don’t know. But I think of things Jesus says in Matthew 9 to 12 (“which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”) and I think, are my earthly desires for a future at a career that’s satisfying, a Christian wife sometime in the future, and then children sometime at a later future point after that – is it selfish of me to be asking God for these things? That’s maybe a bit of a stupid question, but, I dunno, I don’t want to fall into the pattern of thinking of God as a magical genie that grants us our wishes, even if such earthly wishes of mine would seem to fit in with God’s will as revealed in the bible I guess (I mean, it’s not like I’m asking for a million dollars, a big house, or to be famous, etc etc). Do I have the right to request divine intervention like this, or should I just stoically accept my life as however it goes? Job ends up getting a new wife and new family and he lives happily ever after (so to speak) after the trouble he faces, but, in a twist of fate, or if it were someone else, he could have easily not have had that happy ending :/ (not that his life was perfect once he found the new wife, and had the new kids including his daughter kerryn ( 😉 ) since obviously he was still a sinner living in an imperfect world, but nonetheless he seems to have some type of closure in his life in contrast to the tribulations and sorrows he faced for most of the book of Job).

        *confuzzled*

      3. Anonymous

        Haha tibbycat, we have been given a divine order; its only natural to find a spouse/have children, “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth” (Genesis 1:22) I don’t really consider that as such a material thing because that is one of our main purposes.

        But yeah Job is amaaaazing because it epitomises all the elements of suffering in a nutshell like you said Spally. It also kinda reminds me of Psalm 73 which basically says Why do all the sinners get rewarded with gifts? “They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men… They have more than heart could wish… Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches.” The psalmist Asaph is annoyed because the righteous people seem to get nothing – there is no justice in the world, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence.”

        But then the psalmist realises that that they will be “cast down to destruction… For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish”

        Take a look, its a great Psalm 🙂
        Monica.

        PS. Spally – FYI I resigned from work because I was doing a lot of admin and want something more challenging.

      4. Alison Post author

        You only just resigned? I thought you resigned ages ago, cause you are an accountant now, and you were just at work when your mum really needed people 😛
        I am stupid. Hehe.

        That is cool, what you wrote about the psalm. I am going to go read it now.

      5. tibbycat

        “You guide me with your counsel,
        and afterward you will take me into glory”.

        🙂

        Haha tibbycat, we have been given a divine order; its only natural to find a spouse/have children, “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth” (Genesis 1:22) I don’t really consider that as such a material thing because that is one of our main purposes.

        Well that’s good to know that I have a divine mission, heh.

        I read Psalm 73 just then. It is comforting, I agree. I guess the thing is though, like Asaph, I’m quite positive about where I’m going after this life is over, and that brings me joy to no end to know that, but it’s the things in this life – such as things like I mentioned above – that aren’t so certain or guaranteed to me. There’s no way of knowing that the book of my life will end up the same way that Job’s book does with those things, and that can be difficult to have faith in what I don’t know even though I’m trusting that God has a plan for me even in this life.

        Anyway, thanks for your response Monica person.

        – Mark.

      6. Anonymous

        I like that line you picked out from Ps 73, c’est tres bon!

        Yes, its true that it can be difficult to have faith in something so uncertain, but I think God will only present you with challenges like that when you’re ready and you’ll come out stronger and wiser.

        This is a really cool forum for discussing God 🙂
        No worries, Mark person

        Monica.

        PS Spally – I enjoyed seeing you at the shop today!!

  4. 5ugar

    yeh i think everyone falls into that trap.. i was challenged recently to love and serve God because He is God.. like hello? lol yeh and not for what He can give us etc.. of course He wants to give us gifts, be only in His way and His time.. it should be an added bonus, not the reason.. (what was the commetry called n who by? i wants to buy it too)
    i struggle to think of God in every way all the time.. like when it suits me God is my friend and then later He is my Lord, then He is my Saviour, then He is the lover of my soul, then He is a giver of good things.. uno, how do you see someone so diverse and complicated.. yeh anyways.. thats what i am stuggling wif atm.. i duno i confuse myself lol

    Reply

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