Chapter Fourteen - The Whirlwind
If God dwells
within all creation, then God is what life is made of. For this reason,
when we are keenly aware of being alive, we also feel God’s presence.
We sense a special closeness to God when someone is born, just as we do
when someone dies. This does not necessarily mean that God causes people
to be born or to die.
of God are beyond human understanding. Only the experience of living can
begin to give some insight. Simple formulas, such as the thought that
good people will be rewarded and bad people will be punished, often do
not hold true in real life. Likewise, childhood metaphors like the notion
of a God “up in heaven” running things seem inadequate.
of Job teaches us about suffering and the mystery of knowing God. Job
is the story of a righteous man whose happy life suddenly turns miserable.
His business fails, his children die, and he is afflicted with terrible
ordeal, Job never curses God. His friends believe that bad things happen
only as God’s punishment for sin, that Job suffers because he must
have done something wrong. They try to convince him to apologize to God,
but Job refuses, knowing he has acted justly. Heartbroken and angry, he
sits alone on a pile of ashes, wishing he had never been born.
at the very end of the book, from out of a whirlwind, God asks Job one
question after another: “Where were you when I laid the foundations
of the universe? Have you commanded the morning to begin? Have you entered
the bottom of the ocean? Do you know the way to the home of light? If
you know, tell Me” (Job 38:4,12,16,17,18). Job realizes that he
knows very little about the mysteries of creation and that it is awesome
simply to be alive. Now he understands that God is present in everything—even
things he does not understand or like. Suddenly he feels grateful just
to be able to love, to learn, and to live. Once that happens, the blessings
and the fullness of his life are restored.
an ethically mature adult includes understanding that bad people often
go unpunished and good people are often not rewarded. Instead, the way
we feel when we do bad things is its own punishment and the way we feel
when we do good is its own reward. To be sure, we stand guilty or innocent
before our Creator. But God is not in the reward-and-punishment business.
It is the same way with a spiritual approach to life. God seems to say,
“Try to make your world the way I have taught you, and that will
bring you more happiness than the greatest reward.” We emerge from
an awareness of the presence of God with a heightened yearning to be better
Excerpt from Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians,
2001 (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing) used with permission from
Jewish Lights Publishing. To purchase a copy of JEWISH
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