by Debbonnaire Kovacs

The lectionary is particularly interesting this week—Job 23 and Psalm 22 side by side. In Job 23, Job wails, Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling! I would lay my case before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?” And Psalm 22 presages Jesus wailing the same question from the cross, the fulcrum of human, perhaps of universal history: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

There is no human who, at some point, has not been (or will not be) in this spot. I particularly remember one night some years ago, standing outside by the burn barrel, watching flames leap into the darkness. I said despairingly, “God, if a human being promised to take care of me, to be with me always, to never forsake me and to ‘make all that my hand does prosper,’ and then acted as invisible as you are acting right now, I would leave that person. I would refuse to be a friend or to trust that person ever again!”

Can you remember a time, perhaps many times, when you have wept over this seeming contradiction?

Job, in his desolation, having lost more than I ever have, from wealth to health to children (the worst loss possible to a human, I verily believe), takes a deep, wavering breath and continues with a faith that just can’t let go, “No; but he would give heed to me. There an upright person could reason with him, and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.” No matter how unbearable everything was, Job couldn’t not believe in the ultimate trustworthiness of his God, though the journey through darkness continued for a long time before being resolved—not by the answers to his questions, but by the reassurance that God really was there and listening.

Jesus, having lost more than any of us can even begin to imagine—

—-take a minute to try—-

—went straight to “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Even less than Job could Jesus imagine a world in which his Father actively abandoned him, no matter what things looked and felt like.

So, with the weight of that history behind me, but not with so much dignity or poetry, or even so much faith and trust, I looked skyward beside my burn barrel and yelled, “You can’t make me not believe in you!!” And then whispered, “I’m with Peter. Where else would we go?”

I hold to that, still. Where else is there? No matter what.