Let it Rip
And the Lord said to Job: “…Anyone who argues with God must respond.” – Job 40:1-2 (NRSV)
Google “how to argue” and you’ll find a plethora of resources, everything from “the ten golden rules of argument” to “how to argue with someone who won’t listen” and “how to win every argument.”
What you won’t find is references to the wisdom that “you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.”
For that, you’d probably need to Google something like “how to stay grounded in a world where many people spend a lot of time yelling at other people.” That search might be worth undertaking, if only for momentary relief from all the yelling.
“How to argue with God” is more challenging yet.
For that, you’d best consult our sacred stories. See Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah, Jeremiah, that Gentile woman who gave Jesus a piece of her mind, and, of course, Job.
Better yet, be like Job: Just let it rip.
God can take it. Turns out God does attend every argument she’s invited to. More than that, God attends to every person and every feeling behind every argument.
It’s not bad advice for our own argumentative spirits: What are we upset about? What feels out of control? Who do we want to listen to us? What do we hope will come of our arguing? How can we speak our truth, our pain, and our fears with clarity and calm, while also respecting the “other side?”
God never tells Job to stop arguing, only to stay in the argument by considering God’s position. In the end, God actually rewards Job for his honest engagement.
Thank you, Holy One, for hearing me out and for honoring my feelings. Teach me also to listen and learn.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.