Friday, January 26, 2007

Bible ah-ha moments

I can't remember who originally posted about How to Handle Grief; Tracks of a Fellow Struggler (it was Brooke over at Brooke!). But I ordered a copy immediately and read through it quickly. There were two instances of "ah-ha" for me, involving two stories in the Bible that have been reiterated for me as the basis for blind faith in God and "His plan."

First, the regarding story of Abraham, Claypool writes,
Though intellectually he realizes that the worst could very well happen, he does not try to run away but sets his face steadfastly for Moriah. Yet emotionally there is a hope within him that something will intervene even at the last moment to reverse the process. Abraham gives expression to this residual hope there at the foot of the mountain when little Isaac asks about the lamb for the sacrifice, and I know exactly how he felt. (
Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.")...

This fascinates me. Because I've studied this passage many many times and never noticed it before. But there is a distinct LACK of emotional insight into Abraham during this very important episode. I always could Abraham do such a thing? But I see it now...he did it because he felt he HAD to. Nowhere does it say he was happy about it.

Claypool continues...
It is at this point that Abraham's experience and my own break off in different directions. He got to go down the mountain with his child by his side, and, oh, how his heart must have burst with joy at having come through so much so well. But my situation is different. Here I am, left alone on that mountain, with my child and not a ram there on the altar, and the question is: how on earth do I get down and move back to the normalcy of life? I cannot learn from Abraham, lucky man that he is. I am left to grope through the darkness by myself, and ask: "Where do I go from here? Is there a road out, and if so, which one?"

Exactly! Never mind that when this story is thrown at me it typically is done so in a way that implies that my children are dead because I did not have enough faith...but the confusion for me comes in the form of the same question this author (who was a minister) had...How do I learn a lesson of faith from someone who was spare the agony of losing their child?

And even more perplexing...why does God command Abraham kill and then later dictate the Ten Commandments to include, "Thou shalt not kill?"

Then I read the portion of Claypool's book that addresses the story of Job...
Not until Job got to that level-to having it out with the Ultimate One Himself-did healing begin to flow for him. Stage five, the climactic stage, came when Job, the one who was made, stood face to face with the One who did the making.

To me, this is a VERY important point. Yeah, God tells Job not to question...AFTER he has already questioned. There was a voice...there was an answer...telling Job that somebody was in charge...somebody was responsible. I can not learn from Job in this regard because all there is is SILENCE. There is no God reassuring me that it's all under control.

I know those who will tell me to take it on faith that what God spoke to Abraham and Job is what God would speak to me today...if... If what? Why doesn't He speak to me? Why am I left to interpret text that is thousands of years old when I so desperately just want some sign that He is there...listening, at the very least? Why is God so distinctly NOT present in my agony, when He was so distinctly present during Abraham's or Job's?

These are points I will have to revisit. For now it is enough to know that I am not alone in my confusion over the lessons I'm supposed to learn from these stories.


delphi said...


Thank you for sharing this. I think I will try to track this book down - it seems like something that I should read.

Jill said...

First, some fiction you would enjoy is by a writer called Janette Winterson. Not all her work, but some, centre on the hypocrisy of the bible.

Secondly, you cannot prove that God was there for those two men. You can only assume that it served the agenda of the church to say it. Think back through history, when churces had political power and were corrupt and the majority of the population was stricken by poverty. It suited the church to tell people that with faith all is possible because the riches of the church were justified and everything else could be blamed on faithlessness.

Just something to ponder. You may have no reason to feel neither abandonned nor guilty. It's all in how you choose to take it IMO. Doesn't make it less hurtful when poeple use it against you though:)

Schmetterling said...

Kate, my friend, I only recently came to discover that God does not dole out signs of His existence; rather, He speaks to us in moments of quiet. I encourage you to stop seeking signs, because you will drive yourself crazy. Instead, entreat Him, in a quiet moment, to provide you with answers. I love you and I'm sorry if I'm overstepping myself here. - Lisa

Catherine said...

God doesn't speak. Not to me. There is nothing but silence. God damned freaking silence. No answers. No nothing. Maybe you're lucky and you hear something. But all I hear is the sound of my cries when I stand in the cemetery upon visiting my sons. There is no comfort in the wind. There is no love in the heavens. There is simply nothing BUT the silence. So maybe that's my message...God doesn't really exist at all.

lauralu said...

you know my now-well-worn thoughts on the subject, i.e. the idea of a god who could have spared my son but chose not to is so horrible that i'd rather believe there's no god than one so hateful, but i give you much credit for continuing to try to figure it all out, which is more than i can handle myself. i hope somewhere along this dogged journey you find something.

Mindi said...

You sound somewhat like me questioning God when I was a little younger. I have to confess I have never suffered the loss of a child and I'm not trying to trivialize you pain by any means. But I also questioned God when he hadn't actually conversed with anyone in centuries. My search eventually led me to the LDS faith, which I realize is not for everyone. However, it has brought me great comfort in my life and I don't feel as alone as I did when I was younger. BTW I was raised in a fairly religious household, but never felt any kind of spirituality while attending the other church. I believe that you have to find your own comfort level with God and go from there. It's my belief that you will eventually have the opportunity to see and raise your children. Knowing that I will live again with my loved ones is what gives me the strength to keep going on days when grief at their passing overwhelms me, which is another story in itself. I hope that you find what you're searching for, along with the comfort that you deserve.

Brooke said...

Catherine, just wanted to let you know that I'm the one who posted on Tracks of a Fellow Struggler last year :)

Thanks for sharing this.


pipsylou said...

Nothing to say - only this...I think about you so much. If God DOES indeed exist, He will show you His existence. If he doesn't, you'll figure that out too.

I'm on my own journey so nothing enlightening to say.