By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge, JUBILEE! Minister
We talked about poor, put-upon Job a few weeks ago when we explored our hunger for security. Job lost everything – his children, his livelihood, everything that gave him earthly security – in a bet between God and a “satan” or adversary who wanted to prove to God that humans only love the Holy for the security the Holy provides to those who are righteous.
What Job discovers, and what we’re invited to learn, is that God makes no bargains with us – that God is an unfathomable, mysterious force in this world – and our choice to love that capricious, free moving spirit is just as mysterious and confounding as God herself.
In this passage (Job 42:1-6, 10-17), God has already spoken from the whirlwind, recounting to Job all the wonders and mysteries of everything that God has created and has told Job until you understand the mysteries of creation you will never completely understand God.
Job says to God: ‘I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
“Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?”
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
“Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.”
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.’
“I have uttered what I did not understand.” Isn’t that just the whole of humanity’s problem, anyway? As a rule, humanity constantly prattles on about things it doesn’t understand. Despite advances in science – there is still much we don’t understand, but it doesn’t stop us from talking about it. In other areas – politics, human nature, the weather – on and on we talk, trying to show ourselves and the world that we know what we’re talking about. But in reality, we know very little, if anything at all, about the mysteries of this world we live in.
When knowledge fails us – this is where hope steps in to fill the void. Job tells God, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” This is what hope does for us, Jubilants. It invites us to stop listening to all the talking heads around us, the ignorant Eeyores who speak only of gloom and doom and instead, open up our eyes and begin to see the Holy – and the hope – all around us.
Hope is not found in the yammering on of theologians and preachers – not even this preacher. Hope is found in the hope of a flower pushing its way through the frozen ground to herald the arrival of spring. Hope is found in the melting and transforming caterpillar who will one day spring forth from its cocoon as a gorgeous butterfly. Hope is found in the regeneration of damaged cells as the miraculous human body heals itself from wounds and sickness. Hope is found in the smile of a stranger when you’re having a really terrible, awful, bad day. Hope is found in the deep breath … and the exhale of carbon dioxide that is transformed again to oxygen by the living, breathing, holy creation that we have the privilege to live, and breathe and be holy in.
Hope opens our eyes to the possibilities we may have never considered. Hope opens our eyes to see the mundane around us as suddenly infused with the Holy. Hope moves us away from using our ears and our words to try to make sense of the world around us, and instead brings the world into sharp, wordless and wonderful focus, opening our eyes to the Holy that moves, in, through and around us. Hope is knowing that there is more going on here than we will ever know or understand.
“Never lose hope,” the Sufi poet Rumi writes (in My Dear Friend).
“And if all the roads,
end up in dead ends,
you’ll be shown the secret paths,
no one will comprehend.”
You will be shown the secret paths – not told about them – shown them. But, you’ll never see those paths with your mouth open and your eyes closed. Open your eyes, Jubilants, so you can see those secret paths that hope opens to us in every moment.
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