I’ve begun reading the book of Job. It seems to fly in the face of Proverbs, which promises good things to do those who do good, and bad to those who do bad.
Job is exceptionally righteous. And he is put through the most horrendous of tragedies. Proverbs logic isn’t found here, and interestingly that is what the whole book shows — how all Job’s friends try to make sense of his suffering, when in fact no sense is made.
Why do good people suffer? No answer is offered in Job. Job never saw the reason and even we, seeing the heavenly dialogue, don’t understand why God allowed it. All we are left with is the option to curse God or to continue to honor him and trust him (as Job amazingly did). All we can do is sit in silence when these kind of unjust terrors happen, and look forward to the day when all is made right.
God is the author of good and the author of love. Remembering that is helpful to me — his wisdom is above ours.
I recently read an article about how Christians need to stop saying “everything happens for a reason.” The author made the point that a lot of bad things happen just because we live in an fallen world, and trying to put meaning into everything can cheapen the suffering someone is experiencing. And although I believe much of what we go through does indeed have a purpose, I think they may have a point: often we simply cannot understand.
Job’s friends sat in silence with him for seven days. Let us learn from that.
The other thing Job has made me think about is how God never promises that we’ll experience blessing, or that tragedy won’t befall us. Maybe this sounds obvious, but how often do you see someone doubting God or his goodness because something horrible has happened?
It reminds me of this section from The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. Jill is incredibly thirsty and has finally found a stream, but there is an enormous lion lying right on the other side.
“If you are thirsty, come and drink”…. [T]he voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. … “Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
… “Will you promise not to – do anything to me if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise.”
That line is heavy, if you think about it. He promises to always be with us. He promises to give life and salvation to those who trust him. But hee makes no promise that we won’t suffer… or even die.
That is the faith he requires. Jill must put her life on the line with no promise of pain she might experience. This faith is hard stuff. But the reward that comes, if not in this life but in the next, can be likened to what Jill experienced when she took that leap of faith:
It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted….