Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
“Where is God?” This is the question that many are asking today in the midst of the violence, chaos and confusion throughout the world. The answer to that question is most important because the answer can lead to discouragement, depression and loss of faith or it can open up to us the way to humility and loving, trusting faith in God.
The Scripture is a good place to look for an answer. Let us begin with the Book of Job. Job was a good man, blameless and upright who was greatly blessed with land, live stock, seven sons and three daughters. Then in one day he looses all his live stock and his seven sons and three daughters. Then he was afflicted with a terrible disease from head to foot. Job’s wife tells him to “curse God and die.” He refuses to curse God. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.” (Job 1: 21-22)
Job, however, curses the day of his birth and the night of his conception and asks why was he not still born? He is unable to explain the painful experience of human existence. He wonders why those who suffer and long for death are allowed to linger on. He bemoans his troubles from which there seems to be no rest. And he demands that God explain to him the cause of his sufferings.
God, speaking from a whirlwind, charges Job of speaking without knowledge. God challenges Job to answer a series of questions about creation and nature that contrast God’s power and wisdom with his limited ability and understanding. Overwhelmed, Job admits his unworthiness and inability to answer and promises to speak no more.
But God is not finished with him. God asks Job if he can annul God’s judgment or condemn him; if he can thunder with a voice like God’s, adorn himself with majesty and beauty and bring the proud down low as God can. Job’s final response is to confess that he has spoken of things he did not understand and beyond his ability to comprehend, and he repents. In so doing he recovers his attitude of humility and trust in God, which is now strengthened by his experience of suffering.
In the Epilogue the Lord blesses Job by giving him twice the number of livestock he had in the beginning. He is also blessed with seven sons and three daughters who were the most beautiful in the land. Job then lives for another 140 years and sees his descendants to the fourth generation before dying.
The lessons we learn from Job give us an answer to our question, where is God? The lesson is: Man is not God. Man is unable to explain the painful experience of human existence. Suffering is not always the result of personal sin. Suffering may be allowed for a greater good. Life is not a question to be answered or a problem to be solved. It is a mystery to be lived in loving, trusting faith in God.
In other words, there is a radical difference between what we see with the eyes of the body and what we see with the eyes of faith. The devil is in the details. God is in the big picture. With the eyes of the body we see in the world senseless wars, terrorist’s bombings, famine, political corruption, corporate scandal, murder, suicide, environmental pollution and possible nuclear disaster.
With the eyes of faith we see a world full of beauty, truth and goodness. We see how God loves and cares for the least of his creatures and especially those who are made in his own image. We see that nothing happens in this world by chance. Whatever happens is either positively willed by God or at least permitted by God. And to those who love him all of these things, even the evil, work together for good.
If we wish to be a
realist we need both of these visions. We need the eyes of the body lest
we be ignorant of the evil in the world, in others and in our self. We
need the eyes of faith to see the goodness in God, in others in our self
and in the world. And to attain and maintain both of these visions we
must read the Scripture and the Daily Newspaper every day; and never read
one without the other. One gives the bad news and the other gives the
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