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.