Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

January 24, 2008

Again I Quote:

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 10:34 pm

“A friend remarked after the funeral that what he had seen there was the endurance of faith. He added that this was the message of the book of Job. And I think he was right about both.

“The only thing that angered me in what people had offered was a small book someone gave me written by a father whose son had also been killed in a mountaineering accident. The writer said that in his church on the Sunday before his son’s death, they read Psalm 18. He now interprets verse 36 as speaking to him:

‘Thou didst give a wide place for my steps under me,and my foot did not slip.’

“His son’s foot had not slipped. God had shaken the mountain. God had decided that it was time for him to come home.

“I find this pious attitude deaf to the message of the Christian gospel. Death is here understood as a normal instrument of God’s dealing with us. ‘You there have lived out the years I’ve planned for you, so I’ll just shake the mountain a bit. All of you there, I’ll send some starlings into the engine of your plane. And as for you there, a stroke while running will do just nicely.’

“The Bible instead speaks of God’s overcoming death. Paul calls it the last great enemy to be overcome. God is appalled by death. My pain over my son’s death is shared by his pain over my son’s death. And, yes, I share in his pain over his son’s death.

“Seeing God as the agent of death is one way of fitting into a rational pattern God, ourselves and death. There are other ways. One of these has been explained in a book by Rabbi Kushner: God too is pained by death, more even than you and I are, but there’s nothing much he can do about it.

“I cannot fit all together by saying, ‘He did it,’ but neither can I do so by saying, ‘There was nothing he could do about it.’ I cannot fit it together at all. I can only, with Job, endure. I do not know why God did not prevent Eric’s death. To live without the answer is precarious. It’s hard to keep one’s footing.

“Job’s friends cried out to him their answer. ‘God did it, Job; he was the agent of your children’s death. He did it because of some wickedness in you; he did it to punish you. Nothing indeed in your public life would seem to merit such retribution; it must be then something in your private inner life. Tell us what it is, Job. Confess.’

“The writer of Job refuses to say that God views the lives of children as cats-o’-nine-tails with which to lacerate parents.

“I have no explanation. I can do nothing else than endure in the face of this deepest and most painful of mysteries. I believe in God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, and resurrecter of Jesus Christ. I also believe that my son’s life was cut off in its prime. I cannot fit these pieces together. I am at a loss. I have read the theodicies produced to justify the ways of God to man. I find them unconvincing. To the most agonizing questions I have ever asked I do not know the answer. I do not know why God would watch him fall. I do not know why God would watch me wounded. I cannot even guess.

“C.S. Lewis, writing about the death of his wife, was plainly angry with God. He, Lewis, deserved something better than to be treated so shabbily. I am not angry but baffled and hurt. My wound is an unanswered question. The wounds of all humanity are an unanswered question.

“I am at an impasse, and you, O God, have brought me here. From my earliest days, I heard of you. From my earliest days, I believed in you. I shared in the life of your people; in their prayers, in their work, in their songs, in their listening for your speech, in their watching for your presence. For me your yoke was easy. On me your presence smiled.

“Noon has darkened. As fast as she could say, ‘He’s dead,’ the light dimmed. And where are you in this darkness? I learned to spy you in the light. Here in this darkness, I cannot find you. If I had never looked for you, or looked but never found, I would not feel this pain of your absence. Or is it not absence in which I dwell but your elusive troubling presence?

“Will my eyes adjust to this darkness? Will I find you in the dark – not in the streaks of light which remain, but in the darkness? Has anyone ever found you there? Did they love what they saw? And are there songs for singing when the light has gone dim? The songs I learned were all of praise and thanksgiving and repentance. Or in the dark, is it best to wait in silence?”

Nicholas Wolterstorff – Lament for a Son pgs 66-69


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