Thursday, May 26, 2022

Leviathan and the Age Old Question

 "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?..." Job 41:1

"...the LORD...shall punish leviathan..." Isaiah 57:1
Portrayed in the Bible to reveal the sovereign power of God the Creator, the description of Leviathan
takes the entire chapter of Job 41. In Psalm 74:14, Psalm 106:26, and Isaiah 27:1, this same creature appears to reveal God's ultimate power over all of creation, man, and evil.

And evil has raised its ugly head this week in Uvalde, Texas. Which brings us to the age old question of why do bad things happen to good people?

A question impossible to fully answer, because we are limited in our understanding of good and evil.

This morning the creature, leviathan, captured my thoughts while reading Job 41-42.

Its description caused me to think of this creature as a representation of Satan, and the embodiment of all evil. In Job 41 God makes it clear only He has control over this fierce creature. And such control is revealed in Isaiah 27:1:

"In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea."

On the other hand, it seems leviathan is a creature man of which man does not have dominion. God is the victor, the conqueror, the ruler, the One with complete dominance over this creature even to the point of feeding it to His people. Though man was given dominion over all creatures, and the fear and dread of man would be on all beasts (Genesis 1:26; 9:2), this particular creature does not seem to have been delivered into our hand. 

And isn't that how it is with evil?

We are powerless against evil. Even over sin of our own lives.

Yet God has power over it. 

So why does He not stop such horrendous events like what happened in Uvalde?

I honestly cannot give you an answer acceptable to each person.

And that's the point, isn't it? We have to be willing to accept an answer (or lack of an answer) when things like this happen...but sometimes it takes time.

Job lost everything. His children killed. Things were horrible. So what does God do? Go on a tangent about how He knows everything, is all powerful, is the Creator of all, greater than Job, beyond Job in every way. 

Doesn't exactly seem comforting, does it?

God closes His monologue describing the one creature that man absolutely has no control over. A whole chapter is spent on it. Why? To bring home the fact that we absolutely do not understand nor have dominion over evil.

We look at the world in the context of time. God looks at the world from the context of eternity.

We'll never be able to see things as God does, because we are limited, and He is not.

In anger we ask, "Why does God allow evil?"

And that anger seems to be a part of the grieving process, necessary for us to walk through before we can reach a place of peace....and not peace with the horrendous situation or event, but peace with God.

No matter what anyone says, evil is evil. Abhorred by both God and man. 

And yet, God uses evil; He does allow it. From His eternal perspective, evil happens unconstrained by the framework of time, EVEN as good happens outside the constrains of time. Given from the perspective of eternity, a moment of evil and a moment of good today are less than a blip on the radar. 

We want to mourn. We want to weep. We want justice. We want revenge--in our time and sometimes even in our way.

Humanly speaking, we need time to process the evil and the hurt it created.

And if we allow ourselves to, we learn to forgive and to heal and even to see the good that came from a wretched and horrible thing. Not everyone will get to that point...and I think that is sad. Some will hang on to that anger (often lashing out at anyone that dares to have a different solution than theirs) and will hang on to that unforgiveness and turn it into bitterness, 

    and that is letting evil win.

In submission and humility, we can accept evil as an opportunity and instrument used by God to draw us to Him, if we are willing to be drawn.

But we may never fully understand.

I have heard so often the importance of needing to pay to the details of our lives. I confess to feeling that those details, while they may affect eternity and may reflect our character, are limited to a point or period of time. Our lives are not limited to this moment in time. Life does move beyond it.

God sees all of time in a moment because He is not limited by time. What we deem horrific (and is horrific), He sees with the clarity of eternity and the clarity of His all-powerful nature.

The acts of man today, while yes, they can affect eternity, they are not overwhelming to God, who sees all of eternity in a moment.

This God is in control. Evil does not overwhelm The Sovereign Creator.

The evil we experience today (because of man's free will, because the sin nature of humanity) may seem to rule this moment, but it cannot and will not conquer our Eternal God. 

This is what the description of leviathan represents--God's incredible power and rule and justice--eternal and perfect justice--over evil.

Job's pain ended with him realizing his own lack of knowledge and understanding.

And then God does something beautiful. He gives us a picture, through Job who suffered without provocation, of Christ's acceptable personage, suffering and sacrificing. Job takes on the role of a priest, of an intercessor between God and his friends, even as Christ became an intercessor on our behalf. 

Then, God gives Job a future. He restores double all that Job lost. Again, a picture of the bounty of the Christ's eternal kingdom and the abundant life He offers.

So, as part of our healing, after a period of mourning, after choosing to humbly accept God's sovereignty in every situation, after looking for Him and His hand in the workings through and around the situation, we need to begin to look for the future. Hope. Something that will cause us to leave behind the pains and the sorrows and bring joy and purpose once more.

I am praying for the people of Uvalde, Texas. Praying for healing, which cannot fully come without acceptance of God's sovereignty and power. It cannot come without allowing for and receiving God's timing of justice and grace and forgiveness. And it cannot come without a desire to trust God for a future. I am praying that good will come from what was intended for evil, and that this community would not let evil take hold of them and drag them into a lifetime of bitterness. Rather, that they'll surrender to the God who desires for them an eternity of peace, joy, and comfort.

"That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. 

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Isaiah 65:16-17 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Conversation with My Heavenly Father

I have imagined my Heavenly Father coming to my room each morning to have a conversation with me. 

Over a week ago, He was trying to get something across to me, something about seeing His hand in tough situations, having joy in bad times, and the like. And of course, I nodded and grinned and said that I understood and agreed wholeheartedly. Then He sighed (I’m sure) and allowed me to proceed with my day.

This conversation was held over the course of a week where I anticipated having a successful discussion with my oncologist which would lead to the end of my chemo treatments and all such medication. I was quite optimistic that I’d get my way, and I’d be able to breathe easily at the end of the appointment, ready to live a happy life free of side effects, treatments, and doctor appointments. Hmmm.

Things, as you may guess, did not go as planned. No, I shouldn’t go off the chemo or meds. There’s too high a risk of the cancer returning. No, my life was not my own…well, okay, that was what I was hearing, not necessarily what the doctor was saying, but you know how that goes.

Suffice it to say, we came to an understanding. I would go off the chemo for three, maybe six and no more than nine weeks. And during that time, I would go to all sorts of other doctors' appointments eating up all the precious free time I was looking forward to having, and all the world was going to come to an end…. well, again, what I was hearing—not necessarily what the doctor was saying…the world coming to an end, that is.

When the appointment was all over, I wanted nothing more than to cry my woes on someone’s shoulders. So, I hopped into my truck (cattle needed to be attended to irregardless of my emotional situation) and headed for the ranch. 

I figured I would call my dad. He’s always good for a conversation on the woes of my life. Hmm. Either he wasn’t home, or he’d determined not to answer the phone when my number flashed (I mean, really, who wants to listen to a whiner when you’ve got better things to do?) (Love you, Dad…you’re amazing).

So, there was my eldest daughter. She should be home. But an unanswered call was quickly followed by a text stating that she was in class and would catch up with me later (later, of course didn’t come for a couple of days…sigh).

Not wanting to burden anyone else, I turned on my playlist and was struck with the concept of my God right there where I was at, waiting for me to turn to Him, to do just what He’d been trying to tell me all week long, preparing me for the disappointment I’d just faced.

And so, I wept. I cried both for the joy of knowing that my Heavenly Father cared, for the forgiveness He gave me, the smile He sent my way, and for (when it started to click in my brain) what He’d been trying to get me to see: look for His hand in all things.

But He wasn’t quite done.

After doing what I do with cows and calves, then coming home and doing what I do at my computer and my house and my yard, I took some time to watch a video and was thunked on the head by God.

Yup. I’d been looking for someone all day who would listen to my complaint (even though I’d shared it with God in the truck on the way up). I wanted someone to say I was justified in my complaint; I was righteous in my perception of things….and clearly, I was not behaving as God had been instructing me to do. Sigh.

Forgive me, Lord. I’m thick headed and know nothing. I can say, as Job: 

“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” Job 42:3

I’d like to say I’m a little wiser now…and perhaps I am only in that I’ve been humbled, but….ummm…I know myself too well. Nonetheless, I’m so very thankful for my Heavenly Father Who is quick to teach, quick to correct, and quick to forgive. Who is both merciful and righteous, both gracious and just. Got to love a God like that. Got to love my wonderful Heavenly Father.

And the Chase Is On

  Years ago, I set my iPad on the treadmill, started up a movie   and pressed 2 for a warmup. I had just begun to punch the button to speed ...