Ahhh ... 2 finals down; 2 to go. So I have a little bit of room to breathe before I start cramming for the next one. He asked questions I could answer, my hand didn't fall off from writing, and then I walked out of the test, looked at a chair and there was my Bible that I'd been missing for a few weeks!
My first thought after all of that satisfaction? "God is good..."
HA! I laugh not because God isn't good, but because the subject matter of my studies for the last few days has entailed looking in depth at the message of Job. And the point of Job, given the prologue, seems to be not so much a look at human suffering per se, but why we serve God. As Satan asks God, "Does Job fear God for no reason?" In other words: "God, it's easy for Job to serve you: you've been so good to him!" "It's easy for Molly to be happy with God: he's been so good to her!"
Scary thought, but true.
I sometimes wonder how I will respond to God when hard times come. Will I echo the voice of Job who (after a LOT of wrestling, and with a lot more still to come) says, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him"? (Job 13:15). Can I say with Habakkuk, "Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation"? (Hab 3:17-18). Do I truly believe with Paul that my time of weakness is when God is most glorified in me?
You know, it's so interesting how the Bible holds the themes of God's goodness and his sovereignty in tension (like so many things we believe). The whole indicative-imperative structure of Scripture shows that our relationship with God is defined by what he has done for us. "I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live" (Ps 116:1-2).
One thing I do know (if I've learned anything in the last 3 years): these two facets of God's character hold together in Christ. He is the One who alone could say "God is good," and "Though he slay me" with complete confidence. When those hard times come, I won't know how he is good, but I pray I will be able to fix my eyes on Christ, the author and perfector of my faith.
I guess this balancing act is part of our faith, and how we preach this to ourselves and others is a wisdom issue - knowing what aspect of God's character to emphasize when, and how to hold them together without denying either one. That was one of the huge blessings that I got out of my Poetry & Wisdom class -- it gave me a thirst for more wisdom, to know how and when to apply particular Scriptures.
But that final is over now, so I'm moving on to the doctrine of salvation! (only academically-speaking, of course)