Sometimes I make lists of the things that I am thinking about thinking about. I’ve not set aside the time to study deeply or to write reflectively. But I’m thinking about doing that work. Today and tomorrow, I’m letting you know about some of those projects.
I was listening to a conversation about Job the other day.
Many of us have talked about him one time or another when looking for a comparison standard for personal suffering. We look at the magnitude of his loss. We think about the way his friends respond to his grief (well at first, and then they open their mouths.) And we point out that God never answers his questions about why.
This time, I wondered whether there would be value in exploring the questions of Job (how do we make sense of, live in, talk about suffering) in a faith-life that is after the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
You see, we often look at Scripture in a way that Tim Keller describes as synchronic, like a catalog of topics. The way things were once is the way things always are. He suggests that we need to also look at scripture from a diachronic perspective, like an unfolding story. (This is not a conversation about how things have changed SINCE scripture was written. This is about how things change in the the story that is told IN scripture).
God is present in grief always. But after the resurrection, God is present in grief having gone through death. And with the coming of the Holy Spirit, God as comforter and teacher and guide has a relationship with people that is different than Job had.
So I started wondering if we could find value in looking at loss and grief of the Job degree through another person.
Paul, perhaps, who himself experience near death, significant personal trauma, possible loss of family, certainly loss of relationships, and ultimately his own death. This would have been true of Peter as well. When they talk about hope and meaning, they still have real loss, but they are standing in a different set of conversations with and relationship to God than Job was.
I’m not ready to do the study or draw the conclusions. And I understand that even as I write, I’m lacking the precision of explanation that I prefer. But I am thinking about the question.