Even though it’s been nearly seven years and I’m incredibly happily remarried, I still sometimes feel DEEPLY hurt by and confused why my second wife left me. By the conventional wisdom that good deeds are rewarded and bad punished, we’d have stayed together. What’s more, it’s the same story if one went by my beliefs. I share this not to point fingers, I was equally to “blame” and am SUPER grateful her choice freed me for the blissful life and soulmate I enjoy now, but to make this observation: If “wisdom” is guidance on living well and bad things happen to good people, it seems to me there’s a wisdom beyond karma (good deeds) and orthodoxy (right/good beliefs) … it’s faith, hope, and Love for NO reason.
One of my favorite books in the Bible is The Book of Job, because it’s about wisdom in the midst and on the other side of pain, loss, and suffering. The story depicts Job (pronounced “Jobe”) as a man who does EVERYTHING right. When God points out to satan how awesome Job is, the spirit of accusation says it’s only because Job’s life is really fabulous (he’s rich, has a huge family, and is prestigious). The devil goes on to bet the Divine that if Job suffers, he’ll forsake God and goodness, while the Creator wagers Job truly Loves “for the sake of nothing” (i.e. without expectation of return, result, or reward).
Let me briefly pause to note the Bible passage I’m talking about doesn’t actually say “Love”. Instead, many translations read: “Fear” the Lord for the sake of nothing. I choose “Love”, instead of “fear”, because the heart of the Hebrew word translated “fear” is less being afraid and more a sense of big AWE, which leads to worship, which results in Love. It seems to me Love, not fear, is at the heart of Job’s actions, so the leap makes sense to me. What is more, the most oft repeated phrase in the Bible is “fear NOT”, which is frequently spoken by God or angels when they meet humans.
In this tale about the human condition and God’s part in it, after the bet the satan arranges for Job to lose his wealth, property, and servants in ONE day, and tops it off by killing all his children! Yikes! And, despite all this, Job keeps Loving God, so the devil afflicts him with all sorts of terrible and painful illnesses/ailments … yet, he STILL remains faithful!
At this point, three friends come to visit Job in his sorrow. After they do well by spending seven days silently sitting with him in grief, they then essentially let him have it. They’re thinking is: Conventional wisdom says, good or bad, people eventually get what they deserve, so suffering MUST be a result of sin. With that in mind, they repeatedly tell Job to repent for the wrongs they think he must have done.
As you might imagine, in his innocence, not only does Job get pretty frustrated with his friends, he repeatedly cries out to the Divine to answer why he’s suffering. In the “end” the Spirit does come to Job, giving, instead of the asked for answers, the gift of presence, being seen and valued, and togetherness. By mixing The Book of Job, other sacred texts, and my own experiences/thoughts into a cocktail of wisdom (i.e. living well), I read the following message from Job’s story for us: There’s a wisdom beyond karma and right beliefs. It’s a radical way of being marked by unknowing, silence, togetherness, and awe, expressed in faith, hope, and Love.
Viewing life as a game wherein our actions and beliefs add or subtract from some heavenly scoreboard is certainly helpful, but it only gets us so far, and falls apart in the midst of trauma, suffering, and loss. Life is NOT a game one wins, it’s a gift we share!
We especially share the gift of life via expressions of faith, hope, and Love. As I write this, it comes to me to say: The essence of wisdom, the spirit of a life well lived is faith, hope, and Love for NO reason. Whether or not you believe in God, and I REALLY hope you’re still reading if you don’t, I believe this way of seeing things is stunningly helpful and applicable in relating with people or Spirit, as well as navigating life.
The energy of “faith” is trust and faithfulness. It was my staying with my ex until the gavel came down. It was trusting that no matter what actually became of “us”, I would be held and Loved. It’s walking with your people and God through thick and thin, come hell or high water. It is fierce loyalty come what may. It’s liberals and conservatives, religious and atheists, and blacks and whites doing life together regardless their differences. Faith is less certainty, greater humility, less talking, and more “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know”, all for an abundance of togetherness.
The soul of “hope” is believing the best. It was doing my best to insist my ex did the best she could … just as I did. Amidst the brutal soul pain of divorce, it was a heart that prayed for massive amounts of goodness for both of us in the future. It’s seeing, naming, and calling forth the best in one another. In the words of author/professor Richard Beck,when we hope we “keep pouring words of restoration, life, renewal, and resurrection into each other.” It’s encouraging and cheering one another on, and believing, come what may, God has got our back and is taking this whole symphony of life somewhere magnificent!
Love is givingness and togetherness. Givingness is the gifting of our time, energy, and wealth for the benefit of others, while togetherness is doing life in relationship. To me, the most powerful wisdom from Job’s story is that Love, in its truest form, is for the sake of NOTHING! While conventional wisdom would have us Love God to get into heaven, our partner to get our needs met, and basically give to get, the heavenly wisdom in Job turns this transactional mentality on its head! We trust, we hope, and we give for NO reason, expectation, or result at all, but because that’s our nature, as we are made in the image of a God who is the very essence of goodness!
Even though, when it comes to my ex I still sometimes drop back into the give to get mentality of conventional wisdom, and suffer because of it; truly the alternative wisdom I describe here has saved me!
How do Job’s story and my observations land with you? How does this way of viewing wisdom aid your journey? I pray these musings have blessed you! In the midst of, and beyond, suffering, loss, and things falling apart lies a heavenly wisdom that invites us to practice togetherness in THISness (life just as it is) with minds of faith, spirits of hope, and hearts of Love, for NO reason at all … and I’d love to join you there!
If you enjoyed this you can sign up for email notifications of future blogs on the top right. Additionally, I have a Facebook page where I regularly post articles, blogs, quotes, meditations, etc. to encourage us to more Light and Love. Again, to the top right there’s a link for you to “Like” the page, as well as my Instagram account if you’re interested. ❤