Life Isn't Easy

I’m reading through the Book of Job right now.  I’ve read it several times before, but I think this time I’m coming to it a little more objectively–that is, without any agenda.  I find myself identifying with Job a lot more now than I have when I’ve been going through difficult times.  I mean really, has anyone ever had a day as bad as Job?  All of my tragedy I’ve faced in life put together could not rival what Job faced in a single day.

My identification doesn’t lie so much in experience as it does in reason.  From the beginning Job is pronounced righteous–by God, by the narrator, by Job himself.  He has, to the best of his finite abilities, followed God’s path.  He has been faithful.  Yet suddenly he has no health, no family, no wealth, nothing to depend on except three condemning “friends” and a nagging wife, and his concept of God.  But God has blown that concept out of the water.  In short, God is more than Job ever imagined, for all his righteousness.

Throughout his speeches you hear Job struggle with maintaining what he knows to be true of God while at the same time judging his situation–and by extension, God Himself–to be supremely unfair.  It is this tension with which I so readily identify, and it was brought into stark relief as I was reading chapters 23 and 24.  He begins his speech with this incredible statement of trust in God and His Justice: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come through as gold” (23:10).  In essence Job is saying, “I have no idea where God is at any moment or what he is doing, but I know that he knows where I am and what I am doing, and in the end he will justify me.”  That is such a huge statement of faith.

And still, chapter 24 is a litany of injustice that Job has witnessed around him, and in verse 12, he charges God with neglect.  “The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But God charges no one with wrongdoing.”  In short, Job is saying, “You see all this and yet you hold no one accountable!  What is that?!”  But he doesn’t end there.  Job once again affirms what he knows to be true of God, that, in the words of Francis Schaeffer, “He is there and He is not silent!”  Towards the end of chapter 24, Job says, “He may let them [the wicked] rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways.”  The implication: the wicked and corrupt may feel at ease right now, but their time of judgement is coming.

I guess I find Job encouraging because often I am in the same dialogue.  I find myself angry and confused with what I see happening around me.  Life is hard and seems so unfair.  And yet at the same time, my faith in God’s nature really doesn’t waiver.  I know he is love and justice, he is mercy and grace.  More importantly, I know that I am finite and he is not.  Like Job, I implicitly bring God before the bar of my judgement–that is, my understanding of justice or mercy–and judge his actions thereby.  And I do this while holding in tension my faith that he is infinite and therefore not subject to my judgement or anyone else’s.  And in those moments where he allows my finitude a brush with his infinitude, like Job, I sit in silence with my hand over my mouth, overwhelmed with the mere glimpse I have of his glory.

Ultimately, Job teaches me that God is big enough to absorb my tantrums and remind me of who he really is.  Too often, I think, the little god that we create to worship, like us in whose image he was created, cannot stand to be questioned and argued with.  But aren’t there times when we let our own children lash out at us in confusion while we just quietly hold them, assuring them by our presence that we are still there and still love them?  If that is true, how can the creature be greater than the Creator?

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