GOD AND HUMAN SUFFERING
Naked I came
forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go back again.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be
the name of the Lord
In all this Job did not sin
Sit Nomen Domini
Children. House. Health. Good name. Property ... You name it, Job
lost it. Covered with boils
from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, he sat upon the ashes
he poured over his head and scraped himself with a potsherd. Even his
wife reviled him:
Curse God and die. Three friends came, barely recognizing
Job, and sat a week with him in silence. They then proceeded to console
Job by convicting him of his sins.
Finally, Job himself uttered what we all have uttered at one time or
another in our lives:
did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?
Would that his nakedness had never been clothed in honor and
glory, for then, he could not know the pain of losing what he never
had. God had
a hedge about him and his house and all that he had, on every side.
one knew this, tore down the hedge, devastated the house, and tempted
Job to despair ... to give up on God.
And, yet ...
all this, Job did not sin.
Job was blameless before God.
We know Job.
We have been
Job in one form or another
been devastated, deprived, lost our health, our jobs, our dignity, security,
esteem ... even our families.
How do we console ourselves? As Jobs friends consoled him? By telling
ourselves that it is, in sense, just ... a
justice we had somehow managed to escape and that has ineluctably and
finally caught up with us?
Jobs misfortunes were not just.
justice demanded of us for our sins and unlike Job, they are many
it has already been rendered, raised in all our ignominy heaped upon
Christ on the Cross.
Yes, God is just! But it was God Himself who paid the price of justice
in the shattered humanity of Christ. He did not and He does not
exact it from us. We are far too poor to pay.
God Himself rendered justice
of Job? What of us?
into this world with nothing. You will leave it with nothing. You think
you have worked for, earned, all the good things you enjoy,
and reckon the day they will be taken from you, injustice. Injustice
was never done you, for you never deserved them. What, then,
of all your hard work and sweat?
Have you worked harder, more diligently, more desperately, than the
poverty stricken farmer in Africa? Why is he not adorned as you? Why
is his plate empty?
If you posses power, wealth, esteem, glory, in this world, do not congratulate
yourself on your diligence, your
uncanny insight, your
and success. It is more appropriate to tremble.
behold Christ, Christ Who was also tempted
by that same evil one who, in his empty promise, is frightfully revealing:
And the devil
took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world
in a moment of time, and said to Him, "To you I will give
all, this authority and their glory; for it has
been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.
soberly: whence your prosperity, your power, your wealth? From whom
and to what end? And over the dignity of how many people did you acquire
Job he tempted to despair in having lost all that was not
his to begin with.
he tempted to idolatry by emptily promising to give Him what
was already His to begin with.
Who said that wealth, prosperity, power was
his to give? And who was it that took it away from Job what was his
to give and his to take?
Misfortunes are not from God. Nor are they the penalty
of your sins (for you would have nothing now, would you?)
Misfortunes, suffering, want, pain, destitution, illness, are evils
out of which God ever brings good ... as He did to Job who
in all this did not sin.
May we do likewise in the face of misfortune, knowing the ever redemptive
love of God lifting us up to holiness, before the relentless malice
that would pull us down to despair.
The house that God has prepared for you will not collapse. Let us put
our treasures there and know our own nakedness.
II: The Suffering Servant