In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:1-12 NIV)
If I never heard myself referred to as a modern day Job again, I could die a happy man.
Trust me when I say, nobody wants to be a Job.
A long time ago I had a friend who used to say, sure the early bird gets the worm, but who wants to be the worm? And he was right
The story of Job is not comforting in the least. It is scary, terrifying, horrifying, sickening… I am sure you get the picture.
Even though at the end of the story, Job was given a new family, a new life, I can hardly get past all the horror he endured in the process. That includes the bad advice of his friends. The minute they opened their mouths, Job’s situation became much worse.
The admission of my struggle to understand how God operates in this world, in our lives is not hard to understand why. Anybody who reads this blog knows I wrestle to understand why He failed to stop what I recognize as the evil work of Satan.
On the other hand, I understand creation is broken. The Apostle Paul says it groans in eager anticipation/ expectation of being renewed. I get that mankind has free will. In the brokenness of our world, we can and do choose what is wicked, wrong, and hurtful.
The human monster who wrought destruction in our lives? I have no doubt in the simple fact he most likely had horror visited into his life by another sin scarred wicked man.
It is bad enough to wrestle with those things, but then Job’s story adds another whole dimension.
If you read the scripture above, you might draw some difficult conclusions. Not only did God fail to protect, He actually removed Job’s protection and suggested Satan have a go at him.
What does that tell me?
Are you ready for this?
I don’t know!
And therein lies so much of the struggle.
One of my new blog friends makes a persuasive argument that God neither causes (which I want to agree with) or permits evil. It is simply a product of the created–you and me.
I have long held that bad things happen because we live in a broken, it-desperately-needs-redeeming world (and if the story of Job didn’t exist, I might still hold that belief albeit not quite so tightly as before). I shudder now at all the times I offered such a belief as an answer to suffering and heartache. Who needs or wants such cold, unhelpful pseudo comfort?
Job turns my neat theology as upside down as any tragedy that leaves us gasping.
God pointed Job out and gave Satan the opportunity. In my little theological world, that is both cause and permission.
If all I had to deal with was the question of why my family/ ministry wasn’t worth the protecting/saving hand of God, that would be one thing.
I may never understand. And while I wrestle and struggle with my understanding of God’s nature, I am beginning to believe the only way to ever have peace is wrapped up in the concept of mystery.
I want answers now, but I may have to settle with a mystery to be revealed later.
It’s not what I want, but it may be just what I get.
What do you think about the idea of mystery?
The next post will hopefully frame my anger and frustration in a way you will have no trouble understanding.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing the struggle.
Les Ferguson, Jr.