“What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!”
~ Job 38:19-21
I’m often sarcastic, but that’s okay. God is sarcastic, too.
In the book of Job, God allows a righteous man to be tormented as a test of faith. It’s a paradoxical book, at once uplifting in showing the ultimate power and benevolence of God, and disturbing in depicting a God who allows a good person to suffer without any explanation. I’ve already said a thing or two about Job, and there’s more I could say, but for now I’ll simply point out how the book of Job proves that God can be really sarcastic.
Job spends most of the book arguing with his friends, defending his innocence as they accuse him of wrongdoing. If Job were innocent, they reason, why would God allow him to suffer? Job isn’t impressed by their arguments, and he proves to be quite sarcastic himself: “How you have helped the powerless!” he snaps in the twenty-sixth chapter. “How you have saved the arm that is feeble! What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?”
Job’s biting sarcasm is surpassed only by God himself, who shows up a few chapters later. God doesn’t offer explanations or answer Job’s questions. Instead, he emphasizes his own absolute power and wisdom. However incomprehensible God seems, he knows what he’s doing. It’s not a terribly satisfying answer, but it’s enough for Job, and the book ends on a happier note with Job’s life restored.
God’s response to Job seems really harsh, especially when the Almighty gets sarcastic. After asking Job a long series of unanswerable questions, he adds, “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!” His sarcasm only emphasizes how little Job—or any human being, for that matter—can comprehend of God’s nature.
There’s another lesson here: God uses sarcasm, which I cheerfully accept as license to be as sarcastic as I like. After all, Christians are commanded to be like God: Jesus Christ said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In other words, by being sarcastic, I’m obeying the all-important commandment to be like God. Sarcasm is my moral and religious duty.
No, I’m not being serious. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but not from any sense of religious obligation. Please don’t bombard me with angry emails or heavy stones! After all, it’s important to have a sense of humor, for as Jon Acuff reminds us, “Laughter is a gift from God. If we take it for granted and act like Christians can’t be funny, he’ll take it back. Like the unicorns.”