Holy Arguments


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 122; 149, Job 9:1, 10:1-9, 16-22, Acts 11:1-18, John 8:12-20

Great spiritual teachers are famous for telling us to seek truth, wisdom, and connection to God in silence. Unfortunately for most of us, actual spiritual silence can be really hard to achieve, especially when we are upset. Sometimes we first need to clear our heads by venting our anger and negativity. Even anger at God needs to be expressed. Job knew this to be necessary when he said: “I will give free utterance to my complaint.”

Job accuses God of setting him up with a great life so his fall will be even harder. Do we ever feel like God has set us up to fail? Or like God is testing us? A popular cliché says “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Job would disagree. With its framing narrative of a wager between God and Ha’Satan, the Book of Job can easily be misunderstood to promote the theology of a God who is constantly testing us, a God who virtually hunts us, “bold as a lion.” Rather, it is a poetic exploration of our relationship with God and suffering. Anyone who has never felt angry or let down by God is a member of a very small club. Job expresses the feelings we all share when we suffer.

Arguing with God has a long tradition among the faithful. Israel (Jacob) literally wrestled with God, and a nation was named for him. Every year during the Jewish High Holy Days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), people of great faith are held accountable for their actions of the past year – and they also hold God accountable. Only by speaking our most difficult truths can we fully express our faithfulness. God already knows what is in our hearts, so doing this is a matter of showing trust in a God who is loving and great enough to handle whatever we have to dish out.

We think of arguments as negative events, but they are inevitable when we are building any deep relationship. Sometimes an argument is a sign that a relationship is worth fighting for.

Comfort: God accepts our whole hearts, not just the happy parts.

Challenge: Find and read some articles on having healthy arguments.

Prayer: God of truth, I open my whole heart to you. Amen.

Discussion: When have you argued with God?

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