Today’s Word: ‘Theophany’ as in… theophany and theodicy are two completely different things.
And here’s why we might care about that at all…
Frederick Buechner, one of my main theological squeezes, writes this:
“Theodicy is the branch of theology that asks the question: ‘If God is just, why do terrible things happen to wonderful people?’ The Bible’s best answer is the book of Job.”
Buechner goes on to remind us that Job was one of the good guys, if not the best guy. Not that it mattered, really. If God had been in the business of showing Job some favor because Job was a good guy, then God was certainly having what we’ve come to know as a ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…’ of biblical proportions.
In the space of just a few short heartbeats, Job lost everything that put him on the biblical map. Buechner describes it this way:
“…his cattle are stolen, his servants are killed, and the wind blows down the house where his children happen to be whooping it up at the time, and not one of them lives to tell what it was they thought they had to whoop it up about.”
If God is just, why do terrible things happen to wonderful people? That’s the theodicy question.
But there’s a different question.
I have a really dear friend who is wrestling with grief and loss; the deaths of two close family friends in the space of just over one year. It’s January and the grief is all coming back, as if it had ever left in the first place. With the new perspective that one year brings, she is discovering that the question isn’t about Theodicy: “If God is just, then why does God let this happen?” The question is about Theophany: “How is God continually being revealed, illuminated in all of this?”
When we wrestle with that question, everything changes: light is brighter, hope is stronger, grace is wider, love is deeper! Epiphany celebrates all the ways that God “locates” in our lives.
Theophany invites us to whoop it up without fear!