Part of a series for our CWOTI study group, this session we are reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans.
The Bible contains a lot of great wisdom. As the author puts it, regarding the Bible:
“…many of its institutions taught me to expect something from the Bible that the Bible was never intended to deliver—namely, an internally consistent and self-evident worldview that provides clear, universal answers to all of life’s questions, from whether climate change is real, to why God allows suffering in the world, to how to keep a marriage together and raise obedient kids.” (pp. 99-100). Kindle Edition.
But it just isn’t that plain, and sometimes even appears to be contradictory.
“The truth is, the Bible isn’t an answer book. It’s not even a book, really. Rather, it’s a diverse library of ancient texts, spanning multiple centuries, genres, and cultures, authored by a host of different authors coming from a variety of different perspectives.” (p. 102). Kindle Edition.
Rachel begins with a retelling of Job as a screenplay and continues into the Psalms to give us a perspective on scripture that is beyond the cherry-picked verses we see on coffee cups and desk calendars and into the sometimes contradictory books of wisdom and laments and poetry.
I really can’t add much to what she says in this chapter because I believe what she wrote 100%. The Bible does not have all the answers. It wasn’t meant to. The wisdom it offers doesn’t apply in all situations and sometimes doesn’t even really apply to the situation it is presented in in the text itself.
I love that she uses Job as an example. We always hear ‘reap what you sow’ and ‘whatever you put out into the universe returns’ and so on. Karma. Do good and good things happen.
But that’s not reality. Job did good things and terrible things happened.
Many scholars, the ones who would know such things, who have studied Job and it’s language and setting, consider it to be the oldest surviving piece of writing in the history of man. Older than the stories of Genesis, ages before Abraham, older than the pyramids and the code of Hammurabi.
It could, quite possibly be the oldest wisdom in the world.
Now I don’t know if that’s true or not, I’ve never really investigated that claim. But the age of the wisdom it provides does not change what it says.
Bad things sometimes happen to good people. And for no real reason.
If there is one ageless, timeless truth that has persisted through the ages, it is that. You can be the best person the universe has ever known and sometimes your house can still burn down and you can still be injured or killed in a car accident.
Shit happens. And for no real reason.
But in the end, it offers another bit. God still cares even though shit happens.
And that too is an ageless, timeless truth.
So let’s not forget the lamentations and the raised fist in angry prayer we see in scripture right along with the inspirational verses. God is big enough to handle our frustration. Especially our frustration as we wrestle with scripture and can’t find answers to the contradictions therein.