Sometimes it’s hard to interpret the horrors of life
Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 06:00 am
If there’s one thing I’m intolerant of in a day when tolerance is a prerequisite for contributing to discussions in the public square, it is simplistic answers to complex questions. Since preachers are ostensibly about truth-telling, try this on for size: some of the most simplistic explanations I hear regarding complex matters originate in the church/religious world.
This reality exists for a number of curious reasons.
Sufficient for my purposes here is to merely submit that when I hear church/religious people tender simplistic answers for complex realities, more often than not I suggest it’s time they re-read the ancient book of Job. Simple answers didn’t cut it thousands of years ago and they don’t cut it today.
What, in the name of all that is truthful, are we to make of the senseless and brutal murders of five Calgary college students by someone they considered a friend?
And what light does ancient wisdom shed on our efforts to responsibly engage that question?
For those unfamiliar with the storyline in the biblical book Job, here’s a précis.
Readers are introduced to Job, a wealthy businessman whose reputation is a jaw-dropper: blameless, of complete integrity, continually fearing God and turning away from evil. If you’re perceptive, you’ll grasp why my parents didn’t name me Job.
“Health and wealth theology” being a staple today, you’d think Deity would be inclined to honour Job’s devotion. Yet just two chapters in, this honourable gentleman’s wealth, business, children and health are AWOL and we find him taunted by his cynical wife to “curse God and die.”
Oh, did I mention this sudden change in fortunes was all God’s idea in the first place? Were he among us today, Job could be excused for stomping out of worship gatherings that proclaim such platitudes as “God is good, all the time, God is good!”
Curiously, the balance of Job – some 40 chapters – is largely unread which, in my estimation, accounts for the proclivity among believers to spout simplistic solutions to complex matters.
The essence of this lengthy treatise gets right in the face of E-Z Answers Inc. = shut up, already!
The message of ancient wisdom that contemporary society does well to note?
Bad stuff happens.
Bad stuff happens to good and godly people.
Being spiritually devout doesn’t guarantee immunity to bad stuff. And the real kicker: Deity uses bad stuff for purposes we will not fully comprehend in this life.
Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org