The First Readings this week have been mostly from Job, a book from the Hebrew Scriptures. In Chapter 38 today, the Lord is answering Job from the heart of the tempest. What a beautiful phrase and image! The Lord puts Job in his place, while he is struggling with all that has happened to him. The Lord reminds Job in the midst of his pain and anguish that the Holy One is on the job. He is not sleeping; he is not impotent; he is not unaware. Job is shushed and says he will not speak any more. His frivolous words are ended. No more shall Job challenge the Ancient One, the Lord of all.
Sometimes in my illness, people have forgotten that God is in the heart of my tempest, myself included. I have had to be reminded that God is in my distress, my fears, my weeping–God is here, right with me. Like Job, I have had a pretty happy life–one that has brought many blessings and much joy. I stand in that still–I am blessed and I am joyful. Life continues to offer me much and I remain grateful. As Job did in the end, I praise God, Creator of All, the Alpha and Omega, the One Who Is With Me. I, as Job acknowledged, am of small account. I did not sprinkle the heavens with stars. I have not set the waters in their boundaries. Never have I met the janitors of Shadowland or shaken the wicked out of the earth. No, those marvelous deeds belong to the Lord of All. God has been in the tempest long before me. God has waited for me there. God has sopped up the blood that covers the path and made a way for me to join hands in the desert.
Gifts arrive sometimes unexpectedly. The other day while listening to the radio, I heard a new song by a local artist named Jaylene Johnson called Lord of All that grabbed my full attention. I had to google what it was and who sang it when I finally got home that day. The line that mesmerized me was You’re Lord of all the hurricanes, I’ll never handle on my own. Yes, I thought, in this week of Job readings. You are indeed Lord of all. Our job is simply to praise in the midst of it and to remain human, which is to embrace all the emotions that will collide in one heart, caught in the tempest–the faith, the doubt, the joy, the sorrow, the pain, the praise, the fear, the peace–and keep going.
Job and I have learned the lesson of a Creator who we do not follow in blind faith but that we follow nonetheless–even, and especially, when we cannot make sense of what is unfolding. We have had privileged lives and were grateful. We have come under attack, and though there are times that appear that we falter, we know that God is inviting us to direct conversation right in the heart of the hurricane that we cannot handle on our own. I may not be perfect in this clumsy dance I am doing, but I do recognize that the One who leads me, is in the heart of the suffering and confusion, and enters into a dialogue few do not flee from. This God was here before the earth was set and nothing new under heaven will befall me. This is the Creator, and as St. Ignatius would say, I am the creature. This Wisdom of All Ages is with whom I choose to stand. Join me?
Have you ever argued with God in the heart of the tempest?
Can you endure the conversation that needs to happen there?
In the heart of the tempest, I find You, Holy One, waiting, wanting a word. You remind me that You are the Creator and I am the creature. I am beloved and covered by your grace. You alone are Holy, Lord of All. Praise be You! Amen.