We often hear about the "Christian Right," or "Conservative Christians." Yet, if you think about it, Jesus was the original liberal.  He cared about motives more than the deeds themselves (Matthew 23:5 & Mark 12:41-43) and more about compassion than adhering to rules (Luke 6:1-11 & Luke 13:10-17). This blog will reflect liberal Christian values of compassion, tolerance, mercy, charity, a thirst for knowledge & understanding, and, above all, love.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Empathizing With Job

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While suffering from; a level 10 headache, nausea, a tightness of the chest, a 102F fever, and a mouth full of sores; I found myself empathizing with Job.

Job had it a wee bit worse than I did  (See the graphic to the left).  Nevertheless, the comparison seemed justified as I lay in bed making deals with God.

"Lord Jesus, if you get me through this and expedite my healing, I promise to abandon my sinful ways and be a good person."

I recited variations of this prayer MULTIPLE times, convinced that the next prayer would be the one to end my suffering.

Of course, such a prayer predisposes the idea that God punishes sin with illness and suffering.  Yet, if we can glean any lesson from Job it's that suffering isn't tied to behavior or faithfulness.  Job was TOTALLY faithful, and he was plagued with more suffering than most of us will ever have to endure.

Job aside, Jesus had to endure a bit of suffering himself.  Peter didn't fare much better either, being crucified upside down.  And don't get me started on the whole John The Baptist thing.  None of their suffering was a deserved response to sin.

We don't need to look to Biblical examples to see suffering isn't punishment for sin.  All you have to do is walk into a NICU ward and watch newborn babies, hooked up to ventilators, fighting to survive to know suffering isn't punishment.  Babies haven't done ANYTHING WRONG to be punished for.

Yet the Karmic idea persists that, "We deserve what we get."  I remember being 8 years old and having a woman at the grocery store tell me I'd be able to walk if the devil wasn't inside me.  Yes, that's it, I'm handicapped because I'm evil.  POPPYCOCK!  I'm not saying I'm a saint, but come on... Really?

I'm currently reading the Book of Wisdom in the Apocrypha, and Solomon describes Wisdom as a female spirit who guides those who will listen.  I don't believe God punishes us before we die.  I am of the opinion that God gives us the ability to make good decisions.  When we listen we're more likely to avoid trouble, e.g., Wisdom AKA the Holy Spirit coaxes Tom not to cheat on his wife and he remains in a loving marriage.

That being said, obedience isn't a force field protecting us from harm.  Sometimes grossly unfair fates befall us and we just have to make the best of it.