Saturday, April 5, 2008

Perplexities and Questions

After too long of a break, I am continuing my study of Job with Oswald Chambers. This morning I looked at Job 9-10. Job is speaking in these two chapters. According to Chambers, Job’s friends have a creed they believe or follow—a list of statements they are certain are true—and all they experience or observe is filtered through this creed. Their creed allows for no uncertainties or perplexities but rather assumes that it contains all there is to know about God.

Job, on the other hand, is faced with perplexities. He knows he is innocent and yet he feels crushed. Being crushed, however, does not destroy his belief in God. In these two chapters he waxes eloquently about God and attributes to God what truly belongs to God:

His wisdom is profound, his power is vast…He moves mountains without their knowing it…He speaks to the sun and it does not shine…He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. (9:4, 5, 7, 8 NIV)
At the same time, he is not afraid of facts that might challenge what he has believed up till now. The facts speak for themselves: Job is suffering even though he’s innocent; and so he asks questions in an attempt to understand the God he trusts who has afflicted him:

Does it please you to oppress me…? Are your days like those of a mortal…that you must search out my faults…though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me... Why did you bring me out of the womb? (10:3, 5-8, 18 NIV)
Job’s friends are certain they know everything there is to know about God and attempt to fit God into the box they have made. Job, by his questions, admits there is much about God he does not know or understand and invites God to make himself understood. Oswald Chambers writes,
The whole point of vital Christianity is not the refusal to face things, but a matter of personal relationship, and it is the kind of thing that Job went through which brings a man to this issue.*
This fits my experience and explains something that had puzzled me. I had been praying that God would heal me of my depression when one day he told me very distinctly to stop making that request. Chambers’ statement answers why. In my state of depression I am pushed into a relationship with God that I might not seek if all was well in my life.

Chambers says,
When a man receives the Holy Spirit, his problems are not altered, but he has a Refuge from which he can deal with them; before, he was out in the world being battered, now the centre of his life is at rest and he can begin, bit by bit, to get things uncovered and rightly related.*
I like that. Following God does not wipe away our problems. If it did, the book of Job would never have been written. Instead, the problems invite us to come to God with our questions and wait with trust that he has the answers.

God, like Job, I have many questions. Please help me wait with patient trust for the answers I know you have. Keep me in the place where you are my refuge and the centre of my being.

*“Baffled to Fight Better” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers pages 59-60.

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