Thursday, February 18, 2016

God is Greater Than our Emotions

Have you ever heard a sermon on Job? If so, it was probably an exhortation to emulate Job's submissive and worshipful attitude in the midst of loss and suffering. While Job's initial response to his catastrophic experiences is honorable and praiseworthy, if this were all we could glean from this Old Testament book, reading chapter one would completely suffice, rendering the following 41 chapters superfluous. In doing so we would miss the raw emotions Job experiences throughout the rest of the book. He feels angry at God and he unashamedly approaches God with his accusations. Job feels like God has made him His mark (7:20), firing arrows through him (6:4) hitting him with a rod (9:34) and throwing him into the mud (Job 30:14). He accuses God of contending against him (10:2), oppressing and despising him (10:3) and destroying all hope (14:19). Job even has the gall to call God his accuser (9:15), a title usually reserved for Satan. Doesn't it then seem surprising that, in God's eyes, Job never sinned in what he said (42:7-9)?

After Ani's death I felt angry at God for taking my precious daughter. I thought I was wrong for feeling this way and my perceived guilt kept me from approaching God. When I could stand this tension no longer, I confided in a professional grief counselor. Dr. Robert Bell explained to me that only once in his entire career had he encountered a grieving parent who did not have feelings of anger towards God. While it was a comfort to me that I was not alone in this dilemma, I wondered what a spiritual saint this one parent must have been. Dr. Bell totally surprised me as he provided the eye-opening reason behind this exception: This parent was an atheist. She could impossibly accuse a God she did not believe in.

In understanding that anger toward God is a natural response, and in reading the book of Job, I learned once again that God is much bigger than I had thought. God is not weak. He is not fearful that his name would be marred by our negative thoughts or emotions towards Him. We are permitted to come to Him and bring our complaints. He allows us to beat against His chest and scream in rage. He can take it! Moreover He already knows how we feel and what we are thinking. He does not reject us but desires to gather us in His arms, showing us that He is for us and with us, even when we do not understand, even if we are angry at him.

This made me fall in love with the God of Job. If we skip over Job's painfully raw emotions towards God, we miss knowing that it is O.K to be absolutely real with Him. God is greater, even than our emotions.

"Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything." (1 John 3:30)