Do You Believe This?
Scripture: John 11:17-27
There Are No Words
“There are no words.” After the events of this past week and the passing of our beloved Butch, that phrase kept coming up in my head and out of my mouth. As a minister, sometimes you feel like “Bible Answer Man.” People ask you for help remembering a passage they are trying to think of, they ask you if you can send them verses on something they are struggling with, they call you if they’re trying to work through a Bible question or a detail about a Bible story. But, there are times when even the preacher doesn’t have the answer. This would be one of those. I struggle with words to explain how a healthy middle-aged man with a wife, three young daughters and a beautiful grandchild can be making a trip home from work—one he has probably made thousands of times in his life— and be at the wrong place at the wrong time and not make it home. Many of us this past week have asked (or shouted, or cried), “WHY?” I think that’s a perfectly legitimate question, even when shouted. The story of Job has always gotten me. It is a story of tragic loss, illness, and Job’s quest to make sense of it all. We often forget that Job never knew what we know—there was a cosmic argument going on behind the scenes between Satan and God that was the root cause of all of his trouble. In the meantime, Job is left to wonder what is going on. He is told by his friends that it is his fault—he had to have done something wrong. But, Job is innocent and he knows this. At times, Job gets pretty blunt with his friends and with God in arguing his innocence and lamenting his struggle. At one point, in Job 13:15, Job both affirms his faith while at the same time arguing for justice: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.” In other words, “I will have faith in God to the very end, but that doesn’t mean I won’t argue my innocence.” I think it’s perfectly normal in these situations to do just that. We can trust God, while at the same time ask “WHY?” God is ok with that. He is ok with Job doing that. A faith that asks the hard questions will, I believe, be deeper and more real in the end. How can it not? We have to let ourselves deal honestly with life, particularly when it’s been unfair.
So, ask the hard questions. Keep your faith in God. You can do both.