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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Box (or "The Particular Problem of Job 9:23")


I like to put God in a box.

I'm not sure why I do this.

Probably the same reason all of American Christianity tries to box Him in -

I think He'd be better if He was just loving,

Merciful,

Gracious.

Then I read my Bible,

And I'm forced to accept that He's much more than that:

Just,

Righteous,

Wrathful.

As my view of God expands,

I find myself falling more and more in love with Him

As the depths of the valley show me just how tall the mountain really is

And I can make out that stream coming right toward me -

Filling me.

I tell myself that God's much better this way,

As He is.

I should stop trying to put Him in a box.

For reasons beyond my understanding,

I do anyway.


This counting -

These reasons -

They've forced me to look carefully at the Bible,

Look for who God is in each verse.

Most of it hasn't been too much of a surprise,

Just opened my eyes slightly more,

Made me feel more joy in and love for God than I've ever felt before.

Then I got to the book of Job,

And, really, how do you handle Job?

Job is upset and grieving,

But did he ever speak anything about God that wasn't true?

Job's friends assumed that they knew why Job was suffering.

They didn't.

Does that mean that what they said about God was wrong?

This is the only book I've counted through and run to my study Bible,

Heart screaming,

Not because I didn't understand the text,

But because I couldn't believe it to be true.

God can't be like that.


I read it,

Right there,

In the middle of the chapter,

And just think,

"No!",

And everything in me is struggling to reinforce the walls of my box,

Hold God in as though I could contain Him,

And how can I believe in a God like this,

How can I accept One who would do such a thing?

The text haunts me:

Job 9:23

New International Version (NIV)
23 When a scourge brings sudden death,
    he mocks the despair of the innocent.

"He mocks the despair of the innocent."

God.

Mocks.

The innocent. 

That is not okay!

Mocking is bad.

God is Good.

I like God being Good.

I like Him to do the things I think are good,

Not do the things I think are bad.

I like my box.

I want to keep it.

But He just keeps punching right through the sides

And hitting me right in the chest

And sometimes the truth can hurt you more than anything else,

But the truth is the only thing that can heal you.

Sometimes the wounds heal wrong and have to be re-opened so they can heal right.

Sometimes my mind's wrong and has to be blown to pieces so He can put it back together the way it's supposed to be.


I run to my ESV study Bible,

Read through the notes carefully,

Searching for something,

Anything,

That says something along the lines of,

"In verse 23, Job says that God mocks the despair of the innocent.

That's not really true, . . ."

I didn't find it.

I sat there,

Bible open on my lap,


Struggling to wrap my mind around this incomprehensible God,

And how One whose love and mercy is great enough

To forgive those whose offense against Him is infinite,

To send His Son to die,

Take the punishment

So we could be seen as righteous,

He could be seen as Just,

True to His Word -

How He -

He -

Could "mock the despair of the innocent".

How can these things be possible?

The box is so much easier,


So much simpler.

This?

This is hard.


I log on to post about my struggles with Job,

Realizing I still don't understand,

And I keep searching,

Searching the context,

Searching Blue Letter Bible,

The Online Parallel Bible,

But all the context tells me is that Job was upset,

But he was still speaking such truth about God!

All Blue Letter Bible tells me

Is that the Hebrew word la'ag really does mean "to mock, deride, ridicule",

And all that the online parallel Bible tells me

Is that some of the commentators don't seem to have very good theology.

(As in, of course God afflicts willingly.  No one's forcing God to do anything.  He's God.  And He knows what He's doing.)

I don't know what to think,

I don't know what to believe,

I don't know who to trust,

So I'll run back to Him.

I'll think the way He tells me to,

No matter how much I want to think otherwise.

I'll believe what He says,

No matter how difficult I find it.

I'll trust Him,

Because He's the only One I can trust.

Period.


One of my friends once told me that he didn't like The Case for Christ

Because he felt that the people tried too hard to prove things.

John Piper said in the seminar I listened to yesterday 

That we need to be careful not to overuse logic.

Logic should never change or take the place of what the Bible says.

I told my sister this summer that God was not born.

She couldn't believe it.

I asked her if she could believe in spite of it. 

I could use all my powers of wisdom to try to prove that God is who I say He is,

I could use logic and try to explain why God mocks the despair of the innocent,

I could do anything and everything to not believe that God is who He says He is,

But all of it it would just be futile efforts,

Steps in the wrong direction,

Me trying to put God in a box again.

I can't understand this text.

And I don't have to.  

I just have to trust Him in spite of it.

If He's Good, then His "mocking of the despair of the innocent" can't be bad.

If He works all things together for our good, then this, too, must be.

If He's Loving, then not even this could cause Him to stop loving me.

If He is, I'm going to trust Him,

And the only reason I can trust Him is because He is,

Because He is who He is.


Logic's going out the window.

My box is being ripped to shreds.

I am struggling because I can't comprehend the incomprehensible.

I type seven words into a document on my computer,

Followed by the reference,

The words that pushed me right off the cliff,

The ledge I'm hanging onto for life:
2270.  He mocks the despair of the innocent (Job 9:23)
They're in the list I copy into a blog post.

Some of the comments suggest confusion similar to my own.

And so I post these words here,

In the hopes that they will help someone else:

I don't know.

I can't understand.

And I'm learning to be okay with that,

The same way I'm learning that,

No matter how much it hurts,

I need to see Him as He is.

I've got to get rid of this box.

Or, at least, I've got to try.


Reasons 2286-2404 today,

Struggling to rip more holes in this cardboard,

Clinging to these texts even though I don't understand

Because I need this.

I need Him as He is:
    ***These reasons have been removed.  For more information, please read this post.  To read other reasons, view any posts with the label 10,000 Reasons from August 30, 2012 or earlier, or from October 10, 2012 or later.***



      (Take the challenge with us!  Please?  Sylvia's taking a hiatus, and I'd love some company.  You won't regret it!)

      <a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>
      Counting in community:



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