The Importance of Being There

What fascinates me about the God of the Bible is that his motivation behind each story appears to revolve around his desire to have a special relationship with human beings. The concept may seem extremely anthropocentric, but the type of relationship that he initiates in the Bible and the way he goes about it exemplifies something far beyond what humans would ever conjure. Through suffering, God hopes that we should look to him and seek his face (cf. Isa. 9:13). Ultimately, the Bible reveals a deity who introduces a far more meaningful avenue for dealing with evil by offering something of absolute value: his presence.

Oftentimes, even as Christians, we forget that God’s purposes as revealed through the Bible centered on reconciling humanity to Himself. How easy it can be to focus on the ancillary benefits of redemption: righteousness, knowledge, peace. When any of those blessings become distant, we tend to equate them with losing God himself. In short, we idolize them. Part of the purpose behind evil’s presence in this world is that it drives us to seek the presence of the Creator, whose being is the antithesis to all those things that cause us pain. It spurs us on to seek a reality outside the perceptions of our fickle instincts.

The Son of God on the cross, shouldering the suffering of humanity, exhibits one of the best accounts for how we as human beings ought to handle evil. We should not seek, primarily, to understand our various situations rationally. The example of the God who takes on flesh shows that we as humans should shun the ivory tower. In dealing with people, our first priority should not be to expound our knowledge. Rather, we ought to offer something similar to what God offers us through Jesus Christ: presence. In times of great trial and heartache, we may not remember the words that people might say to try and uplift us, but we will remember those who walked side by side with us through all the hurt.

When I’ve heard about God’s showing himself to Job after his line of questions, many people tend to present that encounter as a defense from God in which he rebukes Job for his insolence. While the passage does utilize strong language, I have often wondered if the questions God presented to Job weren’t designed to be more of a comfort. We tend to read Job 38 as if God is angry, but God’s questions also seem to be a sign of reassurance for Job that in the face of uncertainty, God remains in complete control.

The problem of evil, I’ve discovered, is what keeps us from thinking that we can accomplish everything with our reason. Going forward in ministry and sharing Christ with others dressed in that humility should make the message of Jesus Christ more comforting and more appealing. Rather than be a lofty individual who has all the answers, we can be a caring person who meets people where they are, whether they’re in tears, full of spite, or full of joy.

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