Job wrestles with the question many people wrestle with: why did this happen to me? In general, we view the world as good and God as loving and caring. Most people believe these things to be true. Yet for most, believers included, we almost always ask the ‘why question when unexplained or unjust suffering and trials come our way. It is a natural question to ask. We wrestle with this question, because at least a little, in our minds, we think that if we are faithful that no bad should come our way. We track right along with Job’s thinking. This too is a natural thought process.
In Job’s day the common understanding was that if evil or bad befell someone, it was because of sin. For example, if one were blind it was because of sin in their life or in their parent’s life. This idea is backed up by the experience of the nation of Israel. Sin causes separation from God, then they experience trial, exile, or some other calamity. The view that God blessed Israel with peace, victory… when they were faithful was also a dominant belief. We mostly hold these beliefs today as well. Good brings good and evil brings evil is still a common thought process. It also holds generally true in life: if you are nice to someone, usually they are nice in return. The reverse is also true.
Job was seen as righteous and good in his pre-trial life. Once the bad befell him, his wife and friends assumed he had sinned. They thought, Why else would God do this? But Job knew he was still faithful, upright, blameless. So he asked God the ‘why?’ question. God’s response was big questions that did not really answers Job’s question. God asked Job is he could bring floods or lightning or even rain. He asked if he could provide prey for the lion or food for the raven. He asked if Job was there at the creation of the earth. The questions do not provide an answer but turn Job back inward.
God created a world that is good and has order and logic. There is both good and evil. Both must exist if we are to have free will. God does not force us to obey Him or to be faithful to Him. We do so out of love. We love because He first loved us. Love is our grateful response to the love God poured out in Jesus Christ. In life there is free will and logical consequences. The world was created as good, not as perfect. Perfect will be the new heaven when Christ returns. So some rains waters the crops and some rains flood the fields. Illness and death are part of life. So is birth and good health. Like Job, in the midst of our pain and suffering we ask ‘why?’ But the answer is elusive. It does not come in many cases. But the promise we receive in Christ is not elusive: Jesus saves all who call on His name and through His saving grace we will all one day enter that perfect world. Hold onto the promise. Live the promise. Share the promise.
Scripture reference: Job 38: 34-41