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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, October 12, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Job 23:1–9, 16–17

Then Job answered: “Today also my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling! I would lay my case before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; but he would give heed to me. There an upright person could reason with him, and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.

“If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; If only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face! (NRSV)

The pastor said, “I don’t know. God’s sure got some explaining to do after this one.”

And I thought, “Yeah? This one?” Because I’ve got a lot of things I want God to explain to me. My list is long, varied, and detailed. Explain to me, God. Explain Alzheimer’s. Explain Parkinson’s. Explain cancer.

If I knew where to find God, I would make the case that we should never see another picture of a starving child in a refugee camp or a drowned child lying on a beach. I think I could back this up. I think I’d have a lot of people on my side.

I would lay my case before God that good people should never suffer tragedy. Sudden death, lingering illness, no, not for them. I’d say, if you want people to be good, if you want people to know that goodness is the way to go, show them how the world gets better by their goodness, because right now that’s kind of hard to see.

And God would listen to me. God would see that my argument was reasonable, and God would explain the reasoning behind things, and it would be OK. If only I could find God.

Of course, I might not like God’s reasons. God might turn things around, say something like, “You don’t think this is just: what are you doing to correct it?” And I’d say, “Well, I’m talking to you,” and God would say, “What? Your thoughts and prayers? Listen, if all you’re doing is talking, you really must not be all that serious. People who aren’t serious never change anything.”

And that’s terrifying. Because it would mean that all these things exist because we continue to allow them, because we want God to do it all for us. Because we don’t have the nerve for the effort. And if I don’t have the nerve to make the effort, why do I think I’d have the nerve to demand explanations? From God?

No. Hiding and complaining, that’s much easier.

Lord, remind us that knowledge and accountability go hand in hand. As you give us the ability to see harm in the world, give us the nerve to do something more than talk about it. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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