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Rubbing Salt in Job’s Wounds

June 28, 2009

One of the unintended consequences of being a part of a church where dialogue (rather than monologue) is the norm is that one often finds oneself in a situation where one is stifling the urge to respond to a preacher (or just frantically scribbling in one’s Moleskine notebook while the preacher goes on to the next point). Of course, meetings where feedback is welcomed tend to be slightly messy and nonlinear, so I don’t expect all churches to adopt such a system. Different strokes for different folks, and all of that. And monologue certainly has its place (Jesus’ sermon on the mount wasn’t exactly interactive, and stadium seating has been around for a very long time).

The sermon at the church I attended this morning spent a little bit of time on the topic of Job, and questioning God. It was a good sermon delivered by a good preacher who is an even better pastor, and is someone who I consider a friend. And she was not talking about theodicy, but about ‘God’s glory’, so I’m taking her ideas down a little rabbit trail of my own making.

The place where my hand was itching to go up was around the general inquiry, “How could Job question God?”, and seemed to be pointing to the folly of a mere man asking for a hearing with Almighty God. But my question is, “How could Job not question God?”. By my reading, Job is supposed to question God. Indeed, God welcomes Job’s questions, and in fact God defends Job’s desire for divine debate from the pointed critique of Job’s friends. Moreover, God is doing stuff that is highly questionable! When challenged by ‘the satan’ (“the adversary”), God’s own words suggest that Job suffers “without cause”. And we know that Job’s losses are almost complete: his entire fortune, his entire family, and his own health. And for what? Literally, for nothing. To settle a bet between God and this piddly provocateur. If it is inappropriate to question an all-powerful being who allows and even empowers such treatment, then I don’t what to say.

The challenge, of course, is to find the courage to question God boldly, and the humility to do it respectfully. But I’d rather not be a party to piling on poor Job as he asks perfectly reasonable questions of the God who betrayed him.

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5 Responses to “Rubbing Salt in Job’s Wounds”

  1. Danielle says:

    Amen. He may by Almighty, but we are in a relationship, after all. That He initiated.

  2. Amen also. I'm sure I have been that preacher who has asked the question or made the statement from the platform. Your unasked question is enough to make me want always to make room for the response. You can stay standing with your contrarian question, but how many doubt themselves for questioning the preacher, and then end up voting themselves off the island?

  3. jason says:

    Amen. I'm with you , but I think where we get uncomfortable is when we try to understand God's answer to Job. "Were you there when i laid the foundations of the earth?" What are we supposed to do with that?

  4. Ken Tennyson says:

    Good stuff. I sure hope God is big enough for our questions, and even our doubt!

  5. danielle says:

    You have highlighted again what I find to be Reformed theology's biggest irony- to believe God is so big and powerful and yet somehow unable to handle our honest questions.

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