Leviathan

Before I begin, I just wanted to thank everyone who passed on their kind words and thoughts after my last post. That was a difficult post to write and much more personal than I usually am, especially in person. Thank you for supporting me and taking a moment of your time to read my often mundane thoughts and for some, leaving messages of encouragement. They meant so much over that week. 

Today I want to write, not about something I’m dealing with right now, but something I dealt with through last winter and this past summer. It may seem cliché, but with Daniel’s daily struggle with his health which affects every aspect of his life, I had my own version of the “why do bad things happen to good people” question. This was always highlighted by how easy things have often come to me. I’ve excelled in university without too much trouble, never struggled to find a job before this fall, and despite going to a small university not recognised by many other educational institutions, I not only got to study at Oxford for a summer, but got straight into a Master’s program at McMaster University. Occasionally, someone mentions how ‘lucky’ I am, or how this must be a path laid out by God because everything has worked out so well for me. Instead of finding these remarks comforting, they often irk me as I reply in my head “What does that mean for Daniel? Why is everything that’s easy for me so hard for him?” If my easy life is a sign that God is watching out for me, does that mean that God is not watching out for him in the same way? The disconnect between Daniel’s struggles and God’s presence in his life was something I felt deeply and struggled with for a while.

Eventually, one night before the transplant, my anger and frustration boiled over and I turned to Job. Instead of sleeping, I read all 42 chapters of Job in about an hour and a half. At first, it was incredibly different than what I was expecting. I remember learning in Sunday School and Religion in high school about God and Satan basically making a bet over Job’s faith. However, this Greek/Roman structure is only the framework for a radical questioning of the contemporary beliefs about what causes our struggles. I was surprised to find that Job was such a real character. He doesn’t simply trust in God, he questions, doubts and fights his friends over God’s relation to our daily struggles. In chapter 38, God answers Job and the rhetoric of God’s response really hit me in a few places. The stream of rhetorical questions not only challenges the worldview of the period (represented by Job’s friends) but reminds us that there is more to the world than humans. God reminds Job (and me) that his worldview includes everything, and there are sacrifices that have to be made.

The passage on the leviathan in chapter 41 really struck me, probably because I had just finished reading Moby Dick not long before. Instead of reading the passage as a comparison between God and Satan, I read the leviathan as a sperm whale. Much like Melville spends pages and pages describing the terrifying greatness of Moby Dick (ex. “The Whiteness of the Whale”), the leviathan of Job is built up as something that cannot be conquered by humans, but by God alone. In conjunction with earlier passages from chapter 38 which emphasizes God’s connection to animals (Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? Or fill the appetite of the young lions when they crouch in their dens? 38:39-40), the passage on the leviathan, to me, illustrates the interconnectedness of us all. In order for the lion to survive, an antelope has to die. It doesn’t mean God hates the antelope and loves the lion, merely that we cannot always flourish or survive. The same goes for the leviathan (keeping in mind I’m talking about it as a whale). While it is a terrifying figure which cannot be conquered by hunters (as both Job and Moby Dick state) it too is humbled by God in death and in turn, feeds and supplies us. 

Coming back to Daniel and my original question about why everything is easy for me and not for Daniel, reading Job (and Moby Dick) helped me remember that there is more involved than just Daniel and me. There is more at stake than just Daniel’s health. His illness and quest for health will hopefully help further developments in immunodeficiencies and bone marrow transplants for others with auto-immune disorders. As has already been proven, life isn’t always so hard, and sometimes, things go smoothly. For me, I hope I can keep my perspective when the inevitable struggle hits. If I need a reminder, I’ll put in The Lion King and sing along to “The Circle of Life” a few times. 

Thanks again for reading and putting up with my first attempt at some sort of analysis since leaving Mac!

Laura

2 thoughts on “Leviathan

  1. Laura, I love your ‘blogs’. It is so great to read your thoughts, however I’m going to have to read this over a few times.; I didn’t go to ‘MAC’!! I can’t wait for Grandpa to read this; he’ll enjoy it. You might even hear back from him. Love & God Bless, Grandma

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