Throughout much of the Book of Job, Job and his friends try to impose a logical structure upon God. Job asserts that he is sinless yet suffering (and that the suffering must be coming from God), which causes him to assume that God is punishing him unfairly. His friends question his premise of sinlessness. They assume that God must be just; thus, Job must be mistaken about his own state. As we read further into the book, we discover that Job’s logic (minus his conclusion) is essentially correct, but when the Voice in the Whirlwind appears, it asks Job to hold on to a pardox: God asserts his own justness but doesn’t deny that the other beliefs Job holds about his own sinlessness and God are incorrect. In the end, God asserts that His morality is different from Job’s own; He essentially says, “I am a just God that you cannot comprehend, and you must submit because I am God and mightier than you are.”
This story resonates with me because this past year I have experienced the paradox of God. As I followed the logical train of my experiences and their meaning, I found myself ending up with conclusions that I wasn’t sure I could believe: God lied to me; I’m completely incapable of interpreting God’s communications to me; etc. My experience with God centers around the paradox that He loves me, but that He is willing to cause immense amounts of pain in my life, and perhaps even do things that, to me, feel immoral. I have had to suspend logic and accept, like Job, that somehow I cannot see the bigger picture from my limited perspective; that somehow, God is still God within this paradox.
But there’s another logical tangle in the story of Job that I have not yet resolved. The story of Job is essentially one of submission. Despite his lack of understanding, Job chooses to submit himself to God because He is God. The paradox of submission is that we must choose to submit to a being we do not fully understand, for reasons we do not fully understand, knowing full well that this submission may not turn out well. And yet, somehow, this submission seems to be the correct path. The only answer that makes this bearable is another paradox, one taken from the Gospels: “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).
- 16 October 2009