"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"God Can Take It"

One last bit from the book I've written about the last couple of days.

I enjoyed this section under "God Can Take It."   I couldn't help but think of an atheist friend whom I've never met, but we've been blogger, and now Facebook friends, for several years.  I know bits and pieces about her past so, while she sometimes posts vile things about God and my beliefs in Jesus - some things that make me cringe a little because they are blasphemous, I try to "listen" to her suffering heart, remembering from where she comes, and pray instead that Love will one day reach her and heal her. 

Speaking of interpreting the message of Job after "suffering on the scale of the Holocaust," the author says about the Book of Job, "We cannot read into it reassurances that things will work out for us in the end if we just trust God, for things do not always work out.  Interpretations of Job that do no more than confirm the absolute wonderfulness of God simply do not speak to the pain and suffering of real people.

... Those of us who choose to believe in a benevolent and powerful God, despite the suffering that we see all around us,...cannot use God, or our belief in God, to dismiss other people's pain.  Sometimes, this means listening to things that make us uncomfortable or challenge our beliefs.  It means allowing people to speak ill of things that we think well of - including (and perhaps especially) ourselves.  And it means listening compassionately to those who criticize, contradict, or seek justice from God or from the human institutions that claim to represent Him.  God can take care of Himself; our responsibility is to take care of each other. 

To meet our obligations to our fellow human beings, we need not believe that God is lacking in either power or goodness.  We just need to understand that He does not require our assistance in dealing with challenges to His authority.  We do not have to protect God from criticisms, complaints, and petitions...He can take criticism.  He can handle complaints.  And He has no need to fear when human beings ask Him to do things differently.  Too many people - often from positions of ecclesiastical authority - spend their time trying to make sure that God's feelings do not get hurt.  This is how we become the Comforters [used in this book to refer to Job's friends] when we should be listening - really listening with our hearts - to the suffering Job."

An excerpt from page 134  of  Re-reading Job:Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem by Michael Austin


S Wibby said...

I like this. :)

It's hard for me to just listen sometimes. Like I know where they're coming from but I want to be *fair* and even if they're criticizing things I don't believe either (which is often the case, actually), I don't want to see it misrepresented. Probably good to remember that believers (or atheists when it's reversed) can take it too and that I'm not really helping anyone by jumping in to "correct" views that aren't aimed at anyone in the first place, just letting out frustrations.

(Ooo, the "I'm not a robot" box tested me with pictures of trees! That is definitely more pleasant than trying to figure out distorted letters and numbers.)

Susanne said...

Thanks for your thoughts on these Job posts! I always enjoy what you bring to a discussion. :)

Yay for trees! These things just let me check a box usually...check that I am indeed not a robot. :)

Malik said...

I like this quote very much. "We do not have to protect God from criticisms, complaints, and petitions...He can take criticism. He can handle complaints. And He has no need to fear when human beings ask Him to do things differently. Too many people - often from positions of ecclesiastical authority - spend their time trying to make sure that God's feelings do not get hurt."

Lately, I have been thinking of Job's story. I know it supposed to teach humankind a lesson in patience and obedience to God (at least from Muslims perspective). My dilemma is not all people have such strong faith and resilience. Some people break during distress. They lose faith and/or hope. Couple of my Syrian cousins who escaped to Europe lost faith. They didn't explicitly show it but I can see it in their Facebook statuses. And I am sure some or many Syrians lost faith as others during wars or calamities.

What I am trying to say is there are lessons to learn from Job’s story but people change during calamity. I know religion scholars try to explain God. They try to explain why He created wars and wrath in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. but in my opinion, none makes sense. Because no human being understands how God thinks.

I do not understand why wars, famine and the suffering of the humankind exist on earth. Some people try to explain it but for me the reasoning is not convincing.

You don’t have to answer. I thought I could vent here rather than on Facebook :)

Susanne said...


I'm so glad to hear from you, and grateful for your thoughts. Like you, I know of Syrians who have lost their faith since this civil war began. For one in particular - who has been more vocal about it - it's not so much the suffering that his people have been subject to, but the fact, in his view, Muslims are killing each other, (some especially the GCC countries) aren't accepting many Syrians, and so forth. It just really put a bad taste in his mouth about his faith, I guess. It's sad, but I still pray that one day there will be peace and joy there again.

Thank you so much for sharing what you did. I've missed hearing from you - here and on your blog. I still look for your posts on Facebook, but the best one lately was written in Arabic. ;)

ajjig manyila said...

Dear Malik,
Susane did not loose her faith in Christianity when George Bush visited pope in Vatican to seek blessing from Jesus Christ in the middle of massacring over a million innocent people 40% of which were angelic children of IRAQ.
He and his other christian believers bombarded and destroyed a rich and prosperous country (then) of middle east called IRAQ to find weapons of mass destruction which never found till today.
How can a true believer in Jesus change her faith when her Christian brothers were / are killing scores of people in middle east to legitimize Israel which stole Palestinian land 57 years ago?..and USA blockade of over 34 UN resolutions which asks Israel to end its occupation, devastation, settlements etc..?.