Job had his desire: he saw the face of God—and abhorred himself in dust and ashes. He sought justification; he found self-abhorrence. Was this punishment? The farthest from it possible. It was the best thing that the God could do for him. Blessedest gift is self-contempt, when the giver of it is the visible glory of the Living One. To be able to behold that glory is to live; to run from self is to begin to be pure of heart. By very means of the sufferings against which he had cried out, the living one came near to him, and he was silent. God had laid all these troubles upon him that He might through them draw nigh to him, and enable Job to know him.
Any man may, like Job, plead his cause with God: he gives us liberty to speak, and will hear with absolute fairness. But, blessed be God, the one result for all who so draw nigh to him will be to see him plainly, the perfect Savior, the profoundest refuge even from the wrongs of their own being; so seeing him, they will abhor themselves, and rejoice in him. When we turn from ourselves to him, becoming true, that is, being to God and to ourselves what we are, he will turn again our captivity; they that have sown in tears shall reap in joy; they shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. Then will the waters that rise from God’s fountains run in God’s channels.
by Diane Adams
Our dog doesn’t understand most of what we say. He gets a few things, like ‘want to go out?’, ‘ham’, or ‘where’s your toy?’ At those moments, when we say one of the words Pepper can understand, his consciousness is raised into something almost human. We communicate. He understands the words, responds to them in action. He’ll run to to the backdoor, plant himself by the kitchen counter, or grab his own tail (that’s ‘toy,’ because we’re cheap). More often than not, however, most conversation goes over his head. His ability to understand is limited by what he most desires. Anything outside of his own desire is gibberish to him.
When Job finally stood before God, ‘face-to-face’, with his list of complaints, nothing came out. It could be that he was speaking of ‘ham’, and God was talking about eternal life, truth, and joy. He had no words. As C.S. Lewis explained in his masterwork, Till We Have Faces, the thinking of this world and the thinking of the spiritual world cannot communicate. As long as we speak out of the ‘flesh’, we are fundamentally without a face, without true being in the face of the eternal Being. An earth-centered consciousness cannot speak with God any more than Pepper can converse with us on the nuances of metaphor.
Raising bits of dust into consciousness is hard work. It takes patience, perhaps eons worth, to bring an earth-centered being into communion with the Spirit of God. We keep wanting to go back to where it was safe and familiar, wanting the things of this world, not the things of God’s world. To become conscious, to see above our own desires, it is necessary to begin to live in the spiritual realm rather than the realm of this world.
We all, like Job, have questions that God doesn’t seem to answer. We suffer. We ask for help, and it seems often as if God just walks away without a word. The problem could be a language disconnect. Perhaps he is constantly speaking to us, constantly offering comfort and help, constantly loving us into what we must become. We do not hear him because we are still in the dirt, still working on gaining our own desires rather than being raised to embrace his.
From God’s perspective, death is not the end; it is a birth. Suffering is not meaningless, but is allowed to work inside, to give us deeper and deeper choices, eventually from the very core of our being, to embrace the words above us or the ones that are from the dirt. Every word from above that we receive is a language expansion, a new opening for us to move from the earth to the realm of light.
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
― Till We Have Faces