The Now, But Not Yet; Crossing Over
It's that time of year. The depths of winter is lit up by the Christmas holiday. Then we prepare for the new year celebration. In between these two holidays is a week of exhaustion. It's that period of waiting that can seem to be the darkest. It's an anticipation for the new while recovering from the past.
It's a place of the now, but not yet. Our walk in faith is that. It's the frustration with the way the world has been and the anticipation of Jesus returning. It's the relationships that seem to spiral out of control, the bills that never end, the daily grind of making the best decisions in very difficult circumstances. The senseless deaths of innocence. The buying and selling of people, or the evil acts of murder. War and violence over money and power. The tortuous life of living in the dark.
There's a story in the Old Testament about a man named Job. He had everything, land, family, wealth, and respect. When we are blessed and doing well we feel in control. We believe the world falls at our feet. We look at others in those situations and believe they have it all put together. They've figured it out. We believe we understand how the universe works and where we will find answers. Then, something terrible happens that rocks us to the core.
Job loses everything. The roof of the house where his family was feasting falls in, killing his entire family. He lost his lands and wealth, all in one fell swoop. He was no longer respected, as people began to ask why all this happened to him. He became suspect in the eyes of his friends. His wife, all that was left of his family, says, "Curse God and die."
Job has four friends who come to explain the 'why' of what's happening. Basically, God is just so Job had to have done something to draw God's wrath. Job pleads his innocence. Three of the friends explain God is just, you do something wrong he punishes you. Therefore it must be Job's fault.
The fourth friend has a different spin. He suggests God is just building Job's character or warning him of evil he may do in the future. God is using this suffering to teach Job something.
Now, Job is fed-up with his friends and dismisses them. He begins to address God. He accuses God of being a bully, a kid with a magnifying glass torturing the ants in his ant farm essentially. "God attacks me, tears me up in anger, and gnashes his teeth at me (Job 16:9)." Then, he states God doesn't know what he's doing and is incompetent. "What hope do the Godless have when he takes away their life (Job 27:8)?" Or perhaps God orchestrates all the injustice and suffering in the world. "He destroys the blameless and the wicked, he mocks the despair of the innocent (Job 9:22-23)."
He shows Job his limited view or understanding of the universe. Job can't possibly judge God without full knowledge of existence. "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4)?" Job has a limited perspective from the horizon of his existence.
God offers Job the opportunity to hand down rulings over every injustice committed on the face of the earth. He points out, it's not black and white, there's a lot of gray areas and it's not easy being just. With Job's limited understanding of the world it's impossible to be just. Justice in our world is extremely complex, it's never black and white.
Finally, God points out two great creatures: Behemoth and Leviathan. These animals were used other places (Isaiah 27:1 & Psalms 74:13-14) to illustrate disorder and danger. They're not evil, but they're not safe. The point is, they exist in our wold. It's part of our reality. The world we live in is created by God to be beautiful, good, and ordered; but it's also wild and dangerous.
We live in an amazing and complex world.
This wold was not designed to prevent suffering and it's not perfect. God doesn't give a reason for suffering but points out Job's limited perspective and the complexity of our dangerous world.
Today, we live in that world. We live in the now, but not yet. The week between Christmas, the birth of Christ, and New Year a new world full of possibilities illustrates in the depths of darkness death has been defeated but we live in it's death throws. We must persevere. "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)."
May you trust in God's wisdom
May you find joy in doing good
May you find rest in His peace
In His service and yours,