Here, Yoda’s words of warning are wise, but by no means complete.
Pride, for example, is left out of the mix. So are ignorance and insecurity.
As to the cause and effects of suffering, I couldn’t tell you. It seems to me a bit like the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Maybe they’re interactive, lined up like a wall of domino pieces.
In any case, we’re still stuck with the question of how to get clear of the whole mess, much less avoid it in the first place. Self-improvement teachers have a variety of different answers to offer.
But ideologues take a different tack. “Life is inherently unfair,” they argue. Placing the blame, for them, is easy: “Human systems are a fault.” Their solution? Easy. “Smash them.”
Never mind the inevitable consequences of playing out anger and hate: still more suffering. As the song goes, “’Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,’ says Werner von Braun.”
But today I’m focused on the biblical view of suffering.
Solomon summed it up. “To everything there is a season.” The pairs of opposites – gain and loss, pain and pleasure – are natural parts of life. Over the long term, they pretty much balance out.
Now, it’s easy to love life and believe in God when things are going your way. It’s when things get rough that trust, faith and commitments are put to the test. The proof of sincerity is steadfastness during the rough times.
The Book of Job is a story of steadfast faith. Hidden in plain sight, it echoes the key to overcoming suffering found throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Summing up my understanding of the story, the most righteous of men, Job, was equally prosperous in the world. But little by little, his assets failed, hitting ever closer and closer to home. In the balance, the greater the gifts the greater the opposite and equal responsibilities and related tests.
During this tail spin, he groans in misery. But never gives up the faith.
He dialogues with wordy critics who question the grounds of his faith. Misfortune, they say, is a sign that God has abandoned him, if there were such an entity to begin with. (Temptations of the ideologue are nothing new.)
Job’s steadfast response, as materials goods, family and finally physically health fall away is this:
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
Long story short, for holding fast to faith, in God’s time, Job is restored. Health, family and goods are returned to him in even greater measure than before.
What is that Name of the Lord??? This is important. For Job is not the only one who calls on the name in trouble. David called upon this name in facing Goliath. It is key in Psalm 91, the warrior’s psalm. The Lord’s Prayer given by Christ as the right way to pray also invokes that name. It is a mystery well worth seeking to its heart.
The boy David draws his courage from the name in facing the monster Goliath:
Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. (1 Samuel 17:45)
From Psalm 91: 14-15
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
And the Lord’s Prayer given by Christ begins:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Now, that name is a sacred vehicle. It carries the faithful, quite literally, from surface through the trials and tests of the middle realm safe home. .. . and back again. Christ, like Job, traveled and returned to example the way open to all of us with the steadfast love, trust and faith to face up when called to sacrifice and answer, Thy will be done.
It looks like this:
Now there’s even more to the mystery. The letters the spell out Christ’s name and those of the Father’s are identical, except for one additional letter placed in the center:
The Hebrew letter Shin represents the ‘eternal flame’ and ‘root of fire’ . Inserted in the middle of the name for God, it gives us the Hebrew name for Jesus–YHSVH (Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey) –commonly pronounced “Yesh-u-ah”.
Here’s a confirmation, from the December 3 page of Jesus Calling.
When you find yourself in the thick of battle, call upon My Name: “Jesus help me!” In that instant, the battle becomes Mine; your role is simply to trust Me as I fight for you.
My Name, properly used, has unlimited Power to bless and protect.
If these words resonate with you, please share them to magnify the effect.