Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Problem of Wonder

Last week I told you I'd like to try adding a little "Wonder" to Wednesday's posts, making the subject categories Widows -- Wonder -- The Word. But I anticipate that some will have a problem with Wonder.

This quote states my fears best:
     We Christians are an impatient lot. We insist on gathering grain before it grows. We want to see flowers before spring and fruit before fall. When a brother or sister is going through a tough time, we insist that the Spirit's work be obvious. Unless they speak of their trials from a spiritual perspective, we tend to apply pressure more than we dispense grace. We rarely believe that life is hidden in the barren tree. Let a friend express his exasperation with a four-letter work, and immediately we're more concerned with his language than with his agony.
     No farmer goes to the orchard in winter to pick apples. Christians do it all the time . . .
     The Christian community is often a dangerous place to be when your dreams shatter. . . . two unwritten rules eventually surface in our response to one who hurts. First, mourning has a time limit. I once heard a preacher tell his congregation, "We must pray for our dear sister. She lost her husband two months ago and is still battling grief. She should be over it by now." . . .
     Second, we think there's a proper way to mourn . . .  (pg. 65, Shattered Dreams, by Larry Crabb)
The idea of wonder is the enemy of the unwritten rules and cliches we Christians are so handy to dispense. Sometimes we just need to shut up in the kindest sense. We need to wonder. Did you know wonder is a biblical thing? Just look at the book of Job.

Job suffered multiple losses, one right after another, each escalating in personal significance and in scale:
  • Oxen and donkeys stolen
  • Servants slain by raiders
  • Sheep and shepherds killed in a natural disaster
  • Camels stolen
  • Camel herdsmen slain by raiders
  • Sons and daughters all killed in a windstorm
  • Job's entire body is covered with painful sores
His friends visited and were somewhat of a comfort--until they opened their mouths and tried to explain, rationalize and figure out who should be blamed for the calamities. Finally, God steps in and puts a stop to what has degraded to argument and character assassination.

Here's where wonder fits in. God never explains WHY all the suffering happened to Job. God simply brings Job to a place of wondering. (Job 38-42) In the end, Job can only say, "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you," and then he becomes humble and repentent, which is always a good thing and brings us beyond cliches to true understanding and acceptance.

Job's friends, like many Christians today, couldn't just stop the yammering and start to wonder. What about us? Can we let go of the incessant asking WHY?, the insatiable yearning for resolution, the craving for it all to 'make sense.?' Can we allow ourselves to simply wonder about about the creation and character of our massive God?
It's not easy, but try pondering Job 38-42 over the next several days. Listen for music that proclaims the same puzzles and uncertainties. Watch for the wonder . . . Talk about the mystery . . . and then Listen to the seeds sprout in the darkness and dirt . . .

I'm wondering about those seeds. I know all about the dirt and darkness. But seeds? Is there, could there really be life after death for the widow, too?

PS Please go over to the right hand sidebar of this blog, and under Other Christian Widow Blogs click on Ruth's Photo Blog for her urgent prayer request.  


  1. Amen Ferree! After receiving many "read Romans 8:28" as words of "comfort" and many other not so quotable quotes I found a good comeback. I started telling people to consider what they would want someone else to tell their daughter if she were faced with the same thing. Just as they wanted to flippantly apply Romans 8:28 to my life and situation I was asking them to apply their same words to their own child. Not so comforting after all. Don't get me wrong I LOVE Romans 8:28 now but in the days and weeks after Joseph died, not so much :) God bless you, Ferree!

  2. Ferree, you are a wonder yourself! You have such a great insight ... it is as if this post was written for me ... I needed this to think about, to ponder, to wonder... Thank you.

  3. Very thought provoking and very true. I appreciate your insight. Take care. Glenda


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