“There’s a Wildness In God’s Mercy”
Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost, Year B
October 21, 2012
Who is this darkening counsel with words lacking knowledge?
Prepare yourself like a man; I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me.
Job is in many ways one of the most accessible books in the Bible. By accessible I mean that its something that we understand because we’ve all been there. Job is a good and faithful man with riches and many children. In an instant all of his wealth and his children are taken away from him. He is left with questions and not a small bit of anger with God.
Theologian Kathryn Schifferdecker notes that Job and his friends believed in a common view of suffering: if you’re good, then God will bless you. If something bad happens to you, then it’s because you did something wrong. When all of this happens, Job feels cheated. He has lived a righteous life, so none of this should be happening to him. His friends are of little help, accusing him of doing something wrong and telling him to repent of his sin.
Job isn’t really that different from us. Shcifferdecker notes that Job and other thought the world revolved around them. The world was an orderly place where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But the God comes to job in a whirlwind and sets Job right. Living the Midwest as I do, I can imagine God coming in a menacing tornado. God responds to Job not with answers, but with questions. God shows a created order that is rather wild, just like God. And humans are not at the center of anything. After a while Job gets it- things are not so ordered and sometimes bad things happen to good people.
If there is a takeaway from all this is that the world is not logical. Things happen that just doesn’t make sense. We don’t understand when a young woman dies in a traffic accident with a drunk driver. We don’t understand the cancer diagnosis. We don’t understand why we are laid off from a job. We don’t understand when someone is raped. But in the midst of all this chaos, God stands with us. God took Job on, but he never left Job.
When I was training to become a pastor, I had to take a term of Clinic Pastoral Education. I spent time at a nursing home in Minneapolis. I remember seeing a young man who lost his leg in an ATV accident. You could see the anger on his face. I spent time sitting with him and saying a little. I always came away somewhat helpless. I still feel that feeling when I do pastoral care.
But maybe being present is enough. Maybe it matters that God stands with us during the hard times, even when and especially when, we wonder, why?
Go and be church.