Transcendent Faith – An Emerging Character
In an earlier blog posting, I introduced a character to this courtroom drama called Traditional Faith. In many ways, faith is on trial and is seen as the defendant. Job and his three friends wrestle with their faith through their understanding of wisdom and their subscription to what is known as the Deuteronomic Formula. They believe good always prospers and the wicked are always punished. As the drama of Job unfolds, we find that this philosophy is not a true faith, but a failed doctrine.
The emerging character that takes over at the conclusion of the book of Job is referred to as a Transcendent Faith. Like the caterpillar that withdraws into a cocoon for a period, Job must struggle so that he will eventually emerge as a new creature. My 5th grade science teacher taught me that if someone tries to help the caterpillar by cutting through the cocoon, the transformation will not be successful. Similarly, Job’s suffering helps to produce a faith and a character that is a transformation of all his empty philosophies and earthly wisdom.
He endures not only the loss of his family and possessions, but the scrutiny of his friends and the ‘supposed’ abandonment of his God. Job believed that God was the source of his suffering. Obviously God did allow Satan to plague Job, but God wanted to give Job the opportunity to grow. Job had the choice of good over evil in order that God could be glorified. In His infinite wisdom, God knew what Job could handle, and if he was to grow into this new and transcendent faith, he needed to go through the pains of growth.
For us, the question is not why did God allow Job to suffer? Rather, how did he respond to suffering? Much of Job’s response was indeed human and flawed. However, he went through the ordeal and gained a clear vision of the God of creation. Many of us feel that God is removed from our sufferings, but He is not. As God instructs Job, He states that He even provides the food for the raven’s young (Job 38:41). Meaning, how much more will He provide for us – His prized creation.
Job 28 contains a hymn of wisdom that gives us a glimpse of what this transcendent faith should look like. This faith reveals that true wisdom is found only in God Himself. Even though Job never knows the story behind the scenes in heaven, he realizes the error of his ideology in Job 42:1-6 and repents so that he can place his trust completely in his God.
Sometimes we get so tied up in philosophy, earthly wisdom and even religion, that we make them into our god. We can learn from Job that God desires to free us from anything that stands in the way of enjoying a relationship with our Creator. How do you respond to suffering?
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