God's Presence, God's Words, Buechner

God’s Presence, God’s Words  Buechner

“IT IS OUT OF the whirlwind that Job first hears God say "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 42:3). It is out of the absence of God that God makes himself present, and it is not just the whirlwind that stands for his absence, not just the storm and chaos of the world that knock into a cocked hat all man's attempts to find God in the world, but God is absent also from all Job's words about God, and from the words of his comforters, because they are words without knowledge that obscure the issue of God by trying to define him as present in ways and places where he is not present, to define him as moral order, as the best answer man can give to the problem of his life. God is not an answer man can give, God says. God himself does not give answers. He gives himself, and into the midst of the whirlwind of his absence gives himself.”

Frederick Buechner, originally published in Telling the Truth 

Dan, who taught me the ministry of Presence

Dan, who taught me the ministry of Presence

The God of my understanding is a God of Presence. God never gives Job answers to why these awful things happen to him. My experience is if we try to go down that road to discern the reason these things happened to Job; because he had sinned, because God wanted to show him off, because God wanted to let the devil know that Job would love him no matter what, we end up in a very messy rabbit hole. God did not bring words and answers to Job, but God brought presence.  Job’s friends brought words that were not helpful. In hindsight, they could have been comforting to him with their presence alone, no words.

Presence is what we bring to those are sick and grieving and dying. There are not words to comfort them, only presence, letting them know we care about them by our presence. God never gave Job answers as to what had happened to him. Likewise, we will never know the why of why things happened to us and to others. Rabbi Kushner again reminds us in his classic, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, that we cannot find satisfactory answers. He encourages us to change where we are putting our energy, from the why to the what and how are we to live on through tragedy. We can with the knowledge that God is beside us, present with us. Presence is the promise.

Joanna   joannaseibert.com