When God Roars in our Suffering

This year I decided to read the Bible chronologically for the first time.

Did you know that Job comes toward the beginning of Genesis in the chronological version? I didn’t. So, I was surprised, yet somehow not surprised, when a couple weeks ago, I found myself in Job. Sometimes God is subtle, sometimes not so much.

Finishing up the book of Job coincided with Titus’s eye surgery a week and a half ago. Immediately following the surgery, I was pretty euphoric. He did beautifully, his eyes are much straighter, he can focus a few feet out from his face, and we have wonderful doctors. All good things; it went about as well as we could have hoped.

But the days following his surgery, I found myself in an unexpected state of grief. His eye surgery did just what it was supposed to do: it straightened his eyes. But, somehow I had this crazy idea that it would be a kind of cure-all, that with his eyes fixed, he would be able to make the connections with people I’ve been so hoping for. Of course it didn’t do that. So I found myself mourning what should have been a reason for thankfulness.

In the days of feeling flattened by the disappointment that I didn’t see coming, I’ve felt my beliefs tested, my fears magnified, my strength sapped, my feet walking in a valley with no views to faraway mountaintops to keep me going. I also found myself in Job 38.

In Job 38-42 God tells me some big things about Himself, and his tone is not of the warm fuzzy variety. It’s more like a ROAR. Sometimes I’ve heard people say or have said myself, “God’s big enough to handle your questions, he can handle your fears, etc, bring them to him.” And I think that’s completely right. God can handle them.

But, sometimes the point isn’t whether God can handle them, it’s whether I can handle God’s answers to my questions, fears and doubts. Do I want him to answer? Am I ready for the questions He brings to the table? Must his answers meet my felt needs? Will I receive what he has to say with humility and trust, covering my mouth with my hands, silent and chastened?

As I have felt scared about tomorrow and scared about a year from now and scared about 5 years from now and 10 and 20, God hasn’t comforted my fears and questions with a warm gooey brownie hug. He has roared in my face and reminded me of His power and might and my smallness. He has indeed answered me, but it has been with the shout of a father who yells for his child as they are about to step out into busy street, unaware. He has grabbed my arm and snatched me up from danger and terrified me with his love. He has kept me from the peril of repeatedly indulging my doubts and fears.

“Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.”

God’s roars are kindness. It is kindness to be frightened by The Lion who terrifies you to keep you from harm.  It is kindness to have your grievance aired, then lay your hand on your mouth. When Shasta is waiting at the tombs in the darkness of night in The Horse and His Boy, Aslan comes and roars to scare away the jackals that are coming to eat Shasta. Shasta doesn’t know that Aslan is protecting him, he is simply scared witless at the lion that he hears roaring. He’s afraid the lion will eat him, he doesn’t know The Lion is keeping him from being eaten.

And that’s what God does for me and for his children. He gives us a hair-raising fright at the picture of who He is, the demonstration of His power, His wisdom and abilities. Then we collapse in his arms, with meekness and trust. He grips our hand tightly and we dare not wrest it away. We know this is our Father, He loves us, He’s leading us on. We can’t see the mountaintops ahead or how it will all work out, but we can see Him and there’s nothing but kindness in his face.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Cor. 4:6,7

As an aside, I’d like to say that this blog remains simply a place for me to say what God’s teaching me, to try and get it down, so I don’t forget it; a place where I hope to encourage whoever might be reading, occasionally bless my kids, and ultimately bring glory to God. Please take it for what it’s worth. It’s a small slice of a much bigger picture of real life.