“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Job 38: 4 (view larger text)
Creation has certainly taken it’s beating these past few weeks. Hardly in the aftermath of Harvey, Irma takes a turn at creating devastating destruction, not falling short of the loss of life. And let us not forget that in the midst of destroying winds and rain, an earthquake takes the lives of many others.
It makes one wonder with Job, who’s very physical and spiritual body took a devastating beating, “How much more can we take, O Lord? Do you really know what’s going on? Where are you?” And then God reminds Job (and all of us) that it is God who is the author of all life – who formed us and created us and all the world not leaving one detail out; that it is this God who laid the very foundation of the earth. Wow…
I spent time with our confirmands this past weekend, working on putting words to our faith, preparing “faith statements” for Confirmation Sunday in October when they will publicly declare who they believe that God is. As I was checking in with them (hi’s and lows!) one of them raised the question about whether all this devastation is God’s response to all the bad stuff that humans are doing in our world today. “Maybe God’s punishing us,” one of them said. “If you read certain portions of scripture, it can be easy to come to that conclusion,” I told them as there are indeed examples of God’s judgment on a wayward people. Just take Noah’s story as an apropos example!
But I continued: “Here’s what I believe – I believe in a God who is so much bigger than I can even imagine or put words to. I simply don’t have the capacity to understand the fullness of this God. But what I do know is in my heart, and that is that God made each of us and all creation to be in relationship with God. That God loves God’s creation, and weeps for God’s creation when it suffers. So when bad stuff happens in our lives and in our world as the result of sin – not God’s punishment, God never abandons us. But God indeed walks the journey with us, showing us the way.” Then one of them responded, “I’m good at “falling” (screwing up). But I know that when I’m going through some really hard times, I can also learn from them and God helps me through it.”
I must say, I love those “good confirmation answers.” But I also know that we have to remind ourselves of those words all the time. Whether it’s a hurricane, and earthquake, devastating illness or any kind of loss in our lives, it’s hard not to lash out at God and say, “You could have stopped this!”
We will each come to our own understanding of who God is. For me, I don’t have the answers to pain and suffering in this world, other than to say that, in the midst of suffering, I believe and trust that God is there. This God who reminds us that God is the author of all things living – having been in this cosmos, this universe, laying the foundations of the earth before it even came into being. Somehow, then, though I cannot comprehend all that God is, my faith informs me of one thing: this God is love and calls me into a relationship – to lean on, cry to, shake my fist at, and ultimately, fall down and worship ….just like Job.