Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Trials, Tribulations, and Steak Knives

Consider it pure joy, my sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Deliver me from my enemies, O God, protect me from those who rise up against me.

I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts—women whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

SACRIFICIAL KITTY! (Meet Puddleglum - he's a little
aggressive, especially when he gets into the steak knives)
The Bible has only ever felt antiquated to me in its metaphors.

 Trials of many kinds? Enemies!? Spears?!? I grew up in the Midwest with a dog, a backyard, and a cul-de-sac. The closest thing I have to an enemy is the crosstown soccer team, and my trials are focused on the health of my family and friends.

And sacrifice metaphors? My version of sacrifice is a cookie-less Lent.

But the Bible doesn’t say “Consider it pure joy, my sisters, when you fall into a slump, when you’re inexplicably restless, when you must wait.”

Or maybe, “Consider it pure joy, my sisters, when life gets a little stressful.”

Yes, lilies of the field and all, and yes, tomorrow will take care of itself, and yes sacrifice and offerings He did not desire.

But there are many verses that remain esoteric to the majority of readers.

I’ve never had an answer for this one. War is a disturbingly prevalent metaphor throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. These days that part of life is reserved for a special few in our society and the rest of us are cordoned off from it. Is this wrong? I doubt it, but it does make the Bible one step more removed, and with the abolishment of daily sacrifices and the obsolescence of spears, it makes understanding the Bible just a little bit harder.

That is where I can derive satisfaction. There’s a certain authenticity in difficulty, a pleasure that can be derived from the pain of struggling to understand: pure joy in constantly struggling against an individual-focused culture as a devotee of a God-focused religion.

It makes those verses which are universal, even more satisfying.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.