Oh God, Why?

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“Why have you made me your target?…Why do you hide your face?…Why should I struggle in vain?…Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?…Why then did you bring me out of the womb?”

Job 7:20, 13:24, 9:29, 24:1, 10:18

Didn’t Job get “hammered?” His monumental suffering is unparalleled in history. He is essentially a godly man who loses everything (except his faith). Job must pick up the pieces after “catastrophic ” sudden pain and total loss.

Job is being tested with the ultimate horrors. Will he “curse God and die” as his wife suggests? Will he cave in to the final four (his friends) and agree to their twisted theology? (You have to read chapters 38-39 to find out).

The Book of Job has been regarded as inaccessible and archaic by many. Unfortunately many believe this assessment and look elsewhere for comfort. I would agree that Job is a challenging book, but so is Macbeth or Plato. (I guess you should find an easier translation).

Job is less an explanation and more a revelation of suffering. “Why” questions go unanswered. “Who” questions matter. I suppose this seems unfair. It certainly seems so, but straight answers in a fallen world won’t get any mileage at all.

One more thing. The Book of Job is about “twisted” theology. Job’s friends “toe-the-party-line” of theology that is logical. But don’t be mislead by their pronouncements, for they seem reasonable but they are flawed. It is a doctrine without love.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

1 Cor. 13:2

You can’t split theology from love and get away with it. When you read “Job’s friends” you must remember that. These are lessons it takes a long time to learn.

The broken believer, hobbled by chronic illness, has much to learn from Job. He is like “the poster child” for those afflicted. My mental illness is an issue (of course) but God is fully in control. He brings beauty out of the ashes.

“To bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:3, NIV

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Picking Out a Kitten

cute-kittensOne of the highlights in a child’s life is choosing a kitten, it will rank up there with many other memories. It’s often the first big decision they will make on their own.

The child will be introduced to a litter, and then be encouraged to choose. And typically there will be some hard picks, but often it comes down, not to the most playful and adorable, but the kitten in some way different from the rest. 

Often the kitten chosen will not be the prettiest or liveliest of the bunch. It maybe lame or “weak” in some way. However once that child embraces that kitten, the bond is irrevocable. We could insist they make a better choice– thrusting another kitten at them, but ultimately it’s their choice. We shake our heads, acquiescent to our child’s choice.

The bonding is surprisingly quick and strong. They’ve made their pick, and they won’t be persuaded to take another. The parent must be content that things will work out somehow. They have decided. 

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

! Thessalonians 1:4, ESV

To be chosen is the highest privilege and honor there is.We may not be the best or the brightest but God has selected us to be his very own.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:26, 28-29

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A little rough around the edges

We might be mangy,  flea-bitten. Many are deeply dysfunctional and profoundly flawed. Often we are the misfits and the loser. Yet he has chosen us to be his very own. He loves us not because we are special; but he makes us special because he loves us. 

Someone once said that if God had a refrigerator that your picture would be on it.

Beloved, this kind of love is good news for most of us. We are not chosen because we are pretty or talented, you see we are not vital to the kingdom. Rather we’re chosen because he wants us.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”

1 John 3:1, NLT

You are God’s choice. Now the trick is to learn about walking as it. Prayer, worship and fellowship with the many others who are also chosen will bring you understanding. The Holy Spirit will show you how.

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April Fool’s Day: An Accident Report

This is a bricklayer’s accident report that was printed in the newsletter of the English equivalent of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put “Poor Planning” as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 lbs of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 165 lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope. And I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back onto me.

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