C.S. Lewis style post on Job January 24, 2013 – Posted in: Uncategorized
C.S. Lewis style post on Job
The following is a blog post written in the style of C.S. Lewis. Not that I actually equate my own writing on par with his, rather suffice it to say, that C.S. Lewis often took the scenic route at arriving at his conclusions, and also, what child doesn’t like to play pretend ? (Another thought, you could just skip this post and pick up Lewis’ ‘The Problem of Pain’ for a more scholarly approach to the subject.)
Quite often, the question of ‘Why evil and suffering?’ behaves capricious and fey.
Seemingly domesticated and tamed one day, while wildly creating havoc upon our faith the next, this feral struggle is not just for those who have suffered much in life…nor is it only for those who are being accompanied by the non-companion of loss. Undeniably, the existence of evil and suffering, receives close to top casting on the playbill of our salvation. Subjugate the question of evil to the jungle of the unknowable if you wish, but it will still terrorize villagers oft in the night, and at times, even in the middle of the day…in its daring to be culled.
Many refuse to face evil for what it is, claiming it’s just God’s goodness masquerading in a ferocious appearing costume – a mere bit player on the stage of life. Others go into a proper schema of free will, and its necessity for the existence of love…leaving hurt ones to glean healing from logical design.
Acknowledging these two existing arguments on evil, let’s let them be…as they no doubt, do service a good and holy work to many…despite their equally often, near misses at restoring one’s soul.
Now, in the course of the studying of studying the Bible, every pupil must come to terms with the subject of emphasis. We can relate to God, like we relate to a human author, as one who emphasizes points and meanings in ways familiar within our relations and language. Yet a brief word of caution, in that Christ is at least man, and even a man fully, but also fully God. He may include, yet transcend, our typical or nominal use of language…and as communication itself is rightfully His creation, He may do more or less with it, what He deems fit. As the crucifixion so rightfully shows us, that which our Lord enters into willingly, is not that by which He is ultimately bound.
So it is, with our Divine Author’s emphasis in addressing the question of evil. I say emphasis, because our treatment is only, or mainly, an examination at the conclusion of the book of Job. There simply is no other passage, letter or psalm, which rivals Job’s story in being such a thorough devotee to the subject at hand. The book of Job stands out from all the rest of scripture…standing out as confounding as the question of evil itself. The book is a timeless, relatively placeless story, untethered to the rest of Isreal’s origin and history…yet instantly bonded to our own doubts and misgivings when it comes to the goodness of God in trials. (C.S. Lewis once was once stated that he thought the book of Job was ‘unhistorical’ according to similar observations. Others find controversy in him alluding to reading the book of Job as pure parable, or universal allegory, but I believe this is a minor distraction and not of any real substance.)
Nearly as old as the creation story itself, the story of Job’s sufferings offer us many answers which can be exposited tangentially, but let us recognize the elephant in the room and perhaps see him home in the forest for the trees. There is little denying, that at first glance, we see God as being harsh in answering Job, after all he’s gone through. In all of scripture, if there was ever a time to give a truly gratifying answer to the problem of evil, (again, minding proper emphasis) it is when the Lord addresses Job directly. Unless we factor in greatly, tacit implication, we can see no mention of God stating that He was working Job’s situation for good, or giving Job a primer on love and free will. (The issue isn’t whether God was working Job’s situation for good, for He was, but the issue more specifically is that God doesn’t volunteer that information, nor thoughts about free will, to Job himself in addressing poor Job’s confoundment with evil…and we are in need of the same treatment as Job!) Out of the tempest, Job get rounds of questions. As rousing and sobering as the calamity itself, we are left with yet something else to reconcile…and this intent is met unto completion, in Job’s repentance uttered as “I’ve spoken of things too wonderful to know.”
“Too wonderful to know…”
Herein lies our key, not to the original question, but the proper one. Only the Lord, through sheer emphasis in His answer, could so daftly show us simultaneously the right answer and the right question, all by responding to the wrong one. I liken this to a scenario in which my bother asks which jam I’d prefer with my toast at tea, and I reply ‘tobacco’ – for he’d instantly know that the real question was answered, in that I’d prefer to enjoy my pipe in repose instead.
So it is with the Lord, He rouses us through Job’s gauntlet of questions to a response which amounts to perceiving the intricacy and vastness of the created world, and our lack of participation in its origins and upkeep. We ask God “Why is there evil and suffering?” to which God responds “There is my beauty which you’ve scarce to know.” God doesn’t answer the question, He changes it – by showing us that we’ve yet to be able to find a worship that eclipses all else. God asserts that there is no true comparison with Himself…and confirms this ages later with Saul of Tarsus. (Rom. 8:18)
This non answer, is the proper response to this ‘wrong question’ mind you…
The soul’s relent and high calling simply are one and the same – to kiss the Son and take refuge in Him. Let us not forget, to kiss is to ascribe beauty, love, passion, friendship and the like, in earnest, (typified by the falsity of Judas and his fate.) How much more now, with evil heard through shots around the world…and upheavals of societal unrest spoken of and circulated in real time…are we to have the God’s questions asked of us – not of calving mountain goats and abyss dwelling whales, but that of a far more extraordinary specimen and species…that of an altogether different altitude, climate, and source – that mystery which is the Father’s crucified and resurrected Son.
The right question and answer…always was, and still remains, as satisfactory as my prerogative for my pipe – Do we see the beauty of God on the level of our affections, beyond the traverse effects of evil? Do we know to avert our gaze, and familiarize ourselves with Christ’s beauty upon whatever loss or horror we may be exposed to? Like Job, we have lived in Christ as our world, thinking we knew His wonders, yet tragedy is to show us that we yet know nothing, for there is always more to Him…things about Him far too wonderful remain untamed. Has the reality of evil roused us closer, or further away from such knowledge?
It is not by accident, that flowers are objects of beauty, sometimes given for funerals, and that the rose of Sharon is eternally laid upon death’s own casket. But we must yet learn, through both confoundment and emphasis, that we are to move towards beauty in suffering …and the beauty we move towards is Christ. As if there were any other attraction, or any other context, for alas there is not…Christ is our stratosphere, ecosystem and maritime depths…He’s the new set of wonders to the world, and stands alone in this regard, yet with open arms.
Few and precious, are the souls remaining on earth, who have learned to be more floored by Christ, than by the existence of evil.
Volumetrically speaking, most still think the size of the confoundment of evil is actually comparable to the infinite size of the confoundment of Christ…and I assure you, Job’s repentance awaits them all.
It is no wonder, that the apostle’s first message beckons us towards His beauty still… “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
And so it must be with us, the church…even with the echo of tragedy still ringing in our ears…we whisper to the world…in a deep, humble, and hushed wonder…“that which we have seen with the eyes of our hearts, and that which we have touched with our hands of faith…that which is from the beginning…these things of Christ…
…things far too wonderful to fully comprehend…”