Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 12; 146, Job 12:1, 13:3-17, 21-27, Acts 12:1-17, John 8:33-47
Are you addicted to answers?
Plenty of answer-pushers are itching to sell them to you: evangelists promoting books and videos, self-help gurus offering weekend seminars, politicians telling you who to blame, and television doctors who just happen to own stock in the current miracle herb. Answers are tempting. They help us cope with life by providing a quick, if false, sense of security. Answers are different than truth, which is acquired through work, discernment, study, and a willingness to tackle the messy and often unanswerable questions of life.
Job’s friends were answer addicts. They clung to the answers which gave them comfort despite evidence before their very eyes (the ruination of a just man) even though in the long run these answers were doing them real theological and spiritual damage. Job’s mind, however, was clear. He would wrestle with the unpleasant truth, even if it meant taking on God:
I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand. See, he will kill me; I have no hope; but I will defend my ways to his face.
Such powerful words. Job tells his friends that in the end their flattery of God will not save but destroy them. He, on the other hand, will confront God with the truth even though it is harsh.
We want things to make sense. After all, we are genetically wired to detect patterns and impose order on the world. We want to blame vaccines for autism, foreigners for economic woes, and cartoons for real world violence. We want to understand the reasons behind people’s actions. But the truth is, the world is complex, confusing, and in many ways incomprehensible.
And that’s okay.
Our own relationship with God should be as personal and trusting as was Job’s. We don’t need answer-pushers mediating that relationship for us. Great spiritual teachers do not hand out answers, they teach us to how to seek truth. Sometimes that truth is: only God has the answers. Better to say: “I don’t know but I will trust God” than be made a liar by false comforts.
Comfort: It can be truly freeing to admit: “I don’t know.”
Challenge: This week meditate on some ideas that you take for granted.
Prayer: God of truth, I will trust you at all times and under all circumstances. Amen.
Discussion: Has anyone ever tried to sell you false answers?
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