Michael Card was at Western this week, teaching in the worship class. Since he’s my favorite musical expositor ever, I was excited. When I got to campus, Melissa told me Michael was looking for me. I quickly autographed a copy of Vintage Jesus and headed for the classroom. As we greeted each other happily, he received my gift as a most precious thing which awed me. He said he was going to give me A Sacred Sorrow and the companion volume, The Hidden Face of God. You can find them here on his web site. I laughed and assured him I already had them. He’d have to receive my gift as grace.
He provoked us mightily, of course, by asking questions like "How is God well worshipped?" and suggesting it’s when we bring our realest self to him. Trying to try to hide something from an omniscient God is simply the highest level of dumb!!
"What is the problem that concerns the book of Job?" It’s not suffering, of course. Neither does it give a theodicy. Why is it that sharing happiness in a gift can cause so much grief, anger, pain? God refuses to answer any questions. The problem, of course, is God Himself.
God defines himself as Hesed (Translated lovingkindness, faithfulness, mercy, and so on): He is the Person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything. It’s the only thing that makes covenant work. We keep breaking it and He keeps keeping it. Finally Jesus comes and keeps it fully.
The paradox begins because Job acts according to Torah. Job is so good that he does sacrifices for sins his kids might have done! But God does not. The equation "if I’m good, the God will be good" is the problem.
What we pray for is very seldom what we really need. We need His presence far more than His provision. And that’s what Job gets in the end. The "answer" for the problem of suffering is Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. It’s what Jesus tells Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat."
We’d expect Jesus to say, but I’ll protect you from him, I’ll rescue you and keep you from trouble. What He says is, "but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32)
The most important question for life in this broken world is "Is God a God who is moved by our tears?" The book begins with God in heaven. By chapter 38, He’s with Job. He’s not the god of the magic wand, but the God who enters personally into our suffering and works grace.
On a more personal note: I’ve done the third weekend of my Interfacing Science and Theology class. It’s been a great time to catch up on Quantum Mechanics from my friend and co-teacher, Merritt Quarum. Sherry’s at Cannon Beach enjoying Cyndee’s apartment while Cyndee is in Kansas City with Elizabeth. I’m preaching at Harvest Community Church in Hillsboro tomorrow.