There’s a difference between a hopeless hurting and a hopeful hurting. One’s darkness is complete. The other has a star or a moon or a distant glow on the horizon. A birth.
The adversary of existence wagered that if God’s hedge of protection was removed from a certain man, exposing him to pain and suffering, God, as a useful concept for making life worth its existence would become useless. God would progressively hide from him and as a result the man would curse existence itself. But the adversary miscalculated. Because for a man like Job, exposure to suffering did not hide a revealed God, rather it accomplished the exact opposite: it revealed the hidden God.
Through suffering Job was forced to confront his concepts of God versus the actual God.
As Job was sitting in the ashes of his life, scraping his sores with potsherds he was finally brought into an unhedged view of God. He and he alone.
In the cosmic court room, there is God and you. That’s it. When the verdict is given—the truth spoken aloud—Job walks out of the courtroom into new life. A life marked by understanding.
Are you better now than before?
Are you better at the end than the beginning?
Then you are watered-down wine in a barely touched cup; forgotten on the table after the celebration and waiting to be pitched . A weak consolation prize handed out to second, third, or fourth best. Thanks for just showing up!
The amazing thing is not that you can be diluted. Rather it’s that you can be concentrated.
Is your life half gone?
“When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.”
That is the fate of the man who gained riches by unjust means.
It is speaking of false character and false spiritual wealth—NOT material wealth. That is exactly Jeremiah’s point. We think we understand the difference between material and spiritual worth. But we fail to understand that ANY worth we give to our “material world” (in essence, “what ‘matters’ to me”) comes from somewhere. We fail to understand that we siphon DIRECTLY from what really matters. We are stealing treasure from somewhere we can’t even see. And then, when we finally look back—because we sense the hollowness underneath—we see that our true treasure chest has been emptied out. We are like the baron stealing oil from underneath the preacher’s neighboring land in “There Will be Blood.” We are actually both those characters. The false preacher winds up empty; equally as impoverished as the oil baron.
Jeremiah is saying that when you polish your character (or soul) as a thing outside of you, and believe it can be improved and maintained by a false morality—you are LYING to yourself; stealing from yourself. The worth you stored up within material wealth built up over half a lifetime turns out sadly to be your worth—even worse, it turns out to be you! And when you reach out, it sublimates away because there was nothing there. You had foolishly poured your worth into thin air.
What is the difference between zero and 153?
Zero is darkness. Zero is blindness and nothing. Zero is neither hot nor cold. Zero holds the keys to hell. If we see life as giving us nothing, zero, then we are giving Satan back the keys to the gates of hell; and he gladly opens his dominion in our lives, behind our back, beneath our blindness. We are Polyphemus crying, “Nothing is killing me!”
Jesus says, “You’ve got it all wrong.”
What happens beyond the horizon? We don’t know. Only the sun knows.
What is the purpose of life?
Jesus says, “Loving me is giving. Loving me gives purpose that eternally calls and eternally satisfies.”
The young get what they want—go where they want. Those are brief satisfactions. They end when the goal is attained. So, therefore, that goal, that frame, must constantly be replaced by another goal another frame. It is eternally unsatisfying. “I’m going to get fish.” Wrong goal. Wrong “why.” Wrong frame. Satan just can’t wait to see those empty nets.
I’m sure Peter would ever reflect; maybe even while hanging inverted on his cross; remembering his nets, full to the bursting with 153 fish, as he helped drag them to shore:
Others will always—eternally—be unsatisfied, eternally dirty, hungry, thirsty, sick, hurting, dying. I will help. I will cast my nets the right way and for the right goal. I will stop being young and become old. I will make myself sicker, hungrier, dirtier, and die, because I know better—Christ taught me better—because I know how to satisfy. I know, now, the goal set before me by Christ: ‘Feed my sheep.’
The lamb that willingly sacrifices himself—sacrifices his wants, his goals, exposes his vulnerability— feeds all sheep, and becomes a new, perfect lamb willing to walk to the alter again. It is living. It is sacrifice.
It is the Way, the journey, that satisfies.
When the pure, unadulterated relationship with God is gone; one is in exile. It doesn’t matter where: Eden, promised land, Canaan, Shiloh, Jerusalem, New York, Texas, or one’s own home. Exile is the place where one wakes up “one day” and realizes the extent of his idol worship—the extent of his enslavement. Just as surely as when one wakes up one day next to the Pillar of stone—the cross—and realizes everything he saw, everything he thought—was wrong. He had the mind of idols. This realization upon awakening—this new fear—is the fear of the Lord, it is the beginning of his wisdom.
“Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.”
A common complaint of my relationship with my wife was that I was never in sync with her. That is how I would say it to myself. If I was up, she was down. If I was down, she was up. Eventually, I realized that our “out of sync”-ness was not only a sign of a very broken relationship—it was a sign of a very broken person. Sadly, darkly, I saw myself for what I was: a man who claimed to follow Christ, but who actively participated in taking his wife’s joy away. If she was feeling positive and enthusiastic about anything, then to the inverse proportion, I became negative and resentful. And, conversely, as her sorrow increased I could not help becoming more positive and contemptuous towards her weaknesses. Then, afterwards, in an ultimate evil move, I would rationalize and justify my behavior to her and to myself. Lies, lies, lies.
I should have been doing the hard work at the right time. I should have been tending God’s creation in a way that makes life flourish (It is after all my world for which he called me to take responsibility). I should have been sharing sorrows, lifting my wife’s burdens, helping in the low times. And then, just as harvest time arrived, sharing in the joys, being enthusiastic for and with her. This is the sign of a redeemed relationship.