December 19, 2012 by Jason Hood
Permit me a personal note. At our house, it’s been a season of extremes. The death of my mother-in-law after a sixteen-year battle with ALS in September. We then experienced the birth of our fourth child on All Saints’ Day–a wonderful, chill boy who looks like he’s big enough to compete with his brothers. My father-in-law battles terminal cancer, with a tumor slowly taking over his cerebellum. He’ll move to hospice later today.
Those who know me well agree that I’m pretty even-keeled. You wouldn’t file me under “Shiny Happy People” most of the time, nor would you think, “This guy needs to be institutionalized for depression.” But lately joy has been a struggle. And the struggle itself creates a struggle, because after all, I’m supposed to be joyful.
I was walking around our local grocery store tonight, pondering my own daze and (apparent) lack of joy, and I asked whether joy in all things is all that realistic. Hebrews 12 came to mind. For the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross, which in fact was not a joy.
To state the obvious, the joy wasn’t there in that moment. He had to look forward–past local moments of shame, stress, and horror–to the moment when it would fully be in his possession.
N. B.: in context, Hebrews is applying the experience of Jesus to the lives of his people.2 Comments
August 13, 2012 by Jason Hood
A few quotes on the book of Job:
In [Job] suffering is a basic reality rooted in a mystery.
Somehow, in God’s design, there is, within the boundaries of the cosmos, chaotic energy, which from the human perspective is mysterious, inexplicable, and traumatic; this chaos is hostile to life. For reasons unknown, God does not eliminate the chaos but sets boundaries to it.
Thus, God says to the sea, “You proud waves”—there’s arrogance and defiance in the imagery of the sea—“thus far and no farther!” Within the ordered universe of God, there is a place for floods, fires, and hurricanes, but they are always bounded.
Bruce Waltke, Old Testament Theology, 12.
When God does come to Job in the whirlwind, it is not to convince him that God really does have reasons (although it may, in fact, do this); it is instead to still the tempest in his soul, to quiet him, to restore his trust for God. The Lord gives Job a glimpse of his greatness, his beauty, his splendid goodness; the doubts and turmoil disappear and are replaced, once more, by love and trust.
Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 497-8.
I can’t imagine how this makes sense, in a world where God is good; but I can imagine a world where it will all make sense.
Christopher J. H. Wright, The God I Don’t Understand
We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
James 5:11 (NAS)
September 9, 2011 by Jason Hood
One of the most challenging personal and pastoral tasks is the navigation of crisis, and Naomi, I think, is an example worth highlighting. David Jackman (cited by Simon Gathercole) notes that despite her grief and complaint, she does not lose her faith:
She consciously places all her pain, bitter experiences and hopelessness within the structure of God’s sovereignty, and she leaves the explanation and responsibility with him. Whether that is escapism or realism entirely depends on the character of God.
Several books of the Bible, including the book of Ruth, are
designed to vindicate that character of steadfast love and dependability and to generate a similar faith in the Lord. He provides in his person the only context in which faith can learn to cope with the uncertainties, pain and bitterness of life. For he is also Yahweh – the God of covenant-love and faithfulness.