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Friday, April 2, 2010

Learning from Job

Read Job 1 and 2 (in other words, the first two chapters of Job).

The Book of Job gives us a fascinating glimpse “behind the scenes,” into the very courts of God in heavenly places. The Bible treats this, by the way, as an event that really happened, not as allegory or fiction, so we should, too. We are told that God and Satan were having a conversation; the subject of their discussion was a man named Job, who was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job was also very wealthy, and had a wonderful large family. Satan challenges God by claiming that if God allows Satan to destroy Job’s wealth, health, and family, Job will “curse You [God] to Your face.” God gives Satan permission, and Job’s great suffering begins.

In the midst of his tremendous sorrow and pain, Job nevertheless worships God, affirming that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away – Blessed be the name of the Lord.” We are further told, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Even when Job was mocked by his wife (“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”), he stood firm: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

Here is the thing that has always struck me about Job: He never finds out why all that bad stuff happened to him. Oh, he would like to have known – he cries out to God for some sort of answer, although his main concern was about whether there was anything sinful he did that caused it all to happen (he didn’t think there was, and he was apparently right). But, rather than give Job an explanation (“You see, Job, there was a sort of a bet between the devil and Me”), God famously responded to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (38:4).

God ultimately restored wealth and health and family (“replacement children”?) to Job, but (so far as we are told) Job never found out why all this had happened to him. It is natural to want to know why things (good and bad) happen to us. I think it is even appropriate to ask God for insight along those lines. I think sometimes God may tell us why he has let us go through certain things; sometimes we can look back and see how the things we have gone through have helped shape us in positive ways, by God’s grace. But I think we need to be careful not to demand explanations from God, or to think that he owes us an explanation. He is sovereign, and we may not ever know, this side of heaven at least, why God did what He did, or why He let any certain thing happen to us. Just like Job.

~ Dean Doug Cook, Regent University School of Law

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