Abraham, Job, Easter, and Christian Anxiety

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Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:19

Though he slay me, I will hope in him

Job 13: 15

There is a kind of anxiety among Christians when God demands something back or takes something away from us, as he does with Job and Abraham. We may think to ourselves, for what reason has God done this? To what purpose? For what betterment?

The issue was far more pointed for the Apostles, witnessing as their friend and savior died on the cross.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Even as Chesterton points out, God had forsaken God:

“That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already, but that God could have His back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents forever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point — and does not break. In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologize in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in the terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”

Chesterton, Orthodoxy

It is hard to place our trust in someone whom we do not know well, and far more untrusting are we of strangers. It, then, makes perfect sense that those who have not known God do not trust him. He is a stranger.

Yet those who do may find it difficult as well.

But soon it will be Easter morning. The time when the tomb was found to be empty, and Christ our Lord had risen.

Yet there surrounds us an anxiety about it all. In our daily lives. In our daily callings. In our hourly callings.

That God should take from us what He has given seems almost a type of game.

It is hard to believe that God takes any evils and turns them into something good.

If we can believe this, then we can easily believe that God bestows graces all the more where sin is. Where we cannot see how God bestows graces where sin is prevalent, then we cannot see how God can take any evil and turn it into a good, either.

Such is the anxiety of the Christian, and why Abraham is considered our father in Faith; for Abraham demonstrates to us this proto-anxiety.

God had given him a promise, that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars.
He was given a son despite his old age.
Abraham was then told to sacrifice his son, who would have carried his familial line, thus ending any start of descendants.

What are we told, then of how Abraham reacted to this? That he would receive his son back somehow. His son would still die, but be given life again; for God had made him a promise of descendants, and it would be through his son, Isaac.

Herein we can see the interplay of this anxiety for the Christian, though there was no anxiety for Abraham. It was not a sign of obedience, but a sign of Faith-a sign of trust that all things would be made good in the end; that God would keep His promise–as it were, against all hope (Romans 4: 18).

Thus is Abraham our father in Faith, for he trusted in God. Job, in following Abraham’s example, says that he too will hope in God, though He may even take his own life. Against all hope does Job trust in God to the point of death.

And thus are we met with Christ. The innocent man who died a cursed death–hung from a tree–nailed to bark.

That Christ was taught carpentry from his father is not lost on those who know it takes carpentry to make a cross. He was, in a sense, given this skill by his father Joseph during His life, wherewith it was used to take His life.

Indeed, God’s only Son was born of the Theotokos–He was born, birthed, in flesh. The Lord of Life was given life. No one may tempt God, but God may tempt God–and in the garden was He tempted. Yet Christ said: “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Yet again do we see this against all hope. His life was taken. The Lord of Life was dead.

But today is Easter.

The Lord of Life is risen.

Let us remember, then, that though we suffer and die each day, that God has greater care of us than He does the birds whom he feeds (Matthew 6:26).

Against all hope, He is risen. Against all hope, let us have hope and faith in God.

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