Job and his Daughters, by William Blake Photo/Wikimedia Commons

In God we trust

  • June 11, 2015

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) June 21 (Job 38:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 107; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41)

Job found out that he was not God — and neither are we. The suffering and struggle of Job is well-known to most of us. A seemingly upright, pious and successful man was brought low by a series of catastrophes that appeared to have no reason. Job steadfastly maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing despite the advice of his “friends.” They all encouraged him to confess his sin against God — after all, if these things happened, there must have been a reason! 

Job came perilously close to despair numerous times, but he always pulled back, convinced of his ultimate vindication. But he wanted answers, and he wanted them now! When God finally spoke to him from the whirlwind, it took the form of a cosmic tongue-lashing. Who was Job to even ask these questions? Only one who had laid the foundation of the Earth and set limits for its natural forces was in a position to see the big picture.

Chapter 38 of Job is beautiful and worthy of being read in its entirety rather than hacked to pieces for a lectionary reading. It was the basis for a thoughtful and beautifully done film titled The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick. The film is well worth a careful and reflective viewing. The message to Job is our message too. Humans often shake their fist at the heavens and demand reasons and explanations for the negative things that befall them or others. Sometimes there are answers, but more often than not, the heavens remain silent and reasons elude us. But we seek the answers from a very limited and earthbound perspective. We are not always capable of seeing the total scheme of things or the countless invisible connections between people and events. To be sure, there are some things that really have no satisfactory explanation — at least to us.

Humility and willingness to continue forward despite ambiguity and apparent randomness is a wise and helpful response. We are not God and there are many things that we will never quite understand while still on Earth. The important thing is to avoid falling into despair or cynicism, but continue the journey with trust in God and in the ultimate purpose of all things. Perhaps part of the joy of Heaven is the ability to see how everything ultimately fits together. 

The “otherness” of the world of the spirit and God’s plan is evident in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. Christ died for all in order to set us free to live in and for Him. Those who are in Christ are of an entirely new and different order. Believers who live in and for Christ should no longer be viewed only from a human point of view, for there are levels and depths in them that we can only begin to comprehend. There is something far greater at work in each person, but much will be revealed only later. Truly living in Christ means anything but business as usual — one’s life will take a very different direction and purpose.

Why was Jesus blissfully asleep on a cushion in the boat when it was in danger of being swamped in the storm? As the terror of the disciples rose, so did their irritation and perplexity over Jesus’ seeming lack of concern over the danger they were in. That was the human perspective. Jesus knew better, for He had the same cosmic perspective as God in the reading from Job. Rebuking the wind and the waves and commanding them to be still, He exercised the divine powers by setting limits and boundaries to the natural order. He also rebuked the apostles for their fear and lack of faith, for this is a human characteristic that colours both our perception and experience of reality. In short, they did not have complete trust in God or the larger plan. Their question concerning the identity of the one who can command the wind and waves was designed by the evangelist to call to mind the role of God throughout the Old Testament. The identity of Jesus by then should have been crystal clear. 

We can broaden our understanding by remembering that a far greater and wiser power than ourselves is in ultimate control of the world and the universe. 

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