If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you?—Job 7:20 (NLT)
Over the past few years, the TV show Lost seemed to be what came up in all the sermons from the “cool pastors”… you know, the ones who look like they know what a flatiron is, wear those thick-rimmed glasses, carry an iPad, and are on a first-name basis with every Starbucks barista within the ZIP code. Lost was famous for being quoted, referenced, used as titles for sermon series…
So I may or may not have mentioned that my wife and I started going to a new church last year… and the thing that seems to be in this church’s culture that I’ve noticed is the TV show Fringe. I had never watched it beyond the pilot, because it just grossed me out too much, but I decided to give it another try. I’m working through Season 1 from the library right now.
One of the characters so far (which Wikipedia says will be recurring) is a weird hairless guy called The Observer. He basically shows up when catastrophic, unexplainable events are ready to occur and watches them play out through a set of high-tech opera glasses and document the scene in some weird language that is written from right to left.
He kind of reminds me of a character from Marvel Comics called The Watcher. He came from an extraterrestrial race whose job was to monitor the activities of other planets, and the one who watched the Earth was named Uatu. He appeared all over the place, but what I mostly remember him from is the series What If…?, an alternate reality series that asked what would happen if certain major events in the Marvel Universe had happened differently, like What if Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben never died? (Would there still be a rice company named after him?) The Watchers had a sort of Prime Directive where they promised never to interfere in any of the events that happened on Earth, even if it meant tragic events would occur.
In this passage, Job refers to God in the same way as these characters, uninterested bystanders that are simply watching life play out whether for good or evil. There are a lot of people out there that agree with that view of God. This is where you always get the questions like, “If God loves us, then why did He let 9/11 happen?” Some may even perceive God is sadistic, as a being who enjoys seeing us squirm and suffer. How depressing is that?
In times of trial, I have even wondered where God is myself. I think that is only natural, especially in a particularly stressful or painful situation. But yet, when God’s son hung on the cross, whom He loved the most, God was able to rescue Him but didn’t. What if God would have brought Jesus down and spared that death on the cross? The holy God of the Bible cannot stand our sinful nature, and without Christ’s blood as the propitiation for our sins, we are doomed.
No matter how painful our situation is, everything is still happening according to God’s plan. Our feelings are no indication of God’s love or the lack thereof. God watches everything that happens to us, but He is faithfully there with us in the good times and the bad every step of the way.
What is your perception of God: faithful friend or disinterested bystander?