Monday, March 20, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 16, Job Answers Zophar, Part One

Zophar concluded yesterday by declaring Job stupid and lacking in wisdom. Job begins his reply with a sarcastic answer, "Then Job replied: 'Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!'" (Job 12:1-2) Oh, what will the world do when you are gone, Zophar, Bildad, and Eliphaz? You know everything. How will people live without you to guide them?

Job points out that he knows the word of God as well as they do. Between you and me, Job knew it better. "But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?" (Job 12:3)

Prior to his misfortune, Job was the man in the community that others looked to for spiritual guidance. Now his friends speak to him as if he has denied the faith. "I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and He answered---a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure---those God has in His hand." (Job 12:4-6) Job says, "It's easy for you to look down on me while you sit in comfort, untroubled by the tragedies that have touched my life. You judge me a sinner because hardship has come upon me, but what about the robbers of this world? Surely you don't judge them righteous simply because they prosper!"

Job's friends have been rebuking him for questioning God, pointing out that the Creator is sovereign over His creation and has the right to do with it as He pleases. Of course Job recognizes the sovereignty of God; here he points out that even the animal kingdom recognizes the sovereignty of God. "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?" (Job 12:7-12) These men keep quoting proverbs to Job and, though much of their doctrine is sound, it is not helpful. God indeed is sovereign, but telling Job this doesn't relieve his burning need to know why God allows suffering.

It's natural to want to know why a good God sometimes allows bad things to happen to good people. We think it would help if He explained His reasons to us. We believe we would understand His explanation. I'm not sure whether either of those things is true. I don't know about you, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if God patiently explained to me in simple terms why some of the things that have happened to me have happened, I would still rather not have gone through most of them. If God sat down and spoke to Job like one man to another, would Job miss his children any less? If God explained His reasoning to him, would Job's festering sores feel any better? If God pointed out all the ways Job is going to grow in his faith because of his financial hardship, would Job worry any less about keeping a roof over his head?

I think the reason we want God to explain Himself to us is not because it will make our circumstances any easier to bear. I think it's because we want reassurance that God is good. In troubled times we sometimes doubt that He is. We worry He might not have our best interests at heart. We want Him to prove to us that He is good by explaining the purpose of our trials. God could do that, and I often wish He would, but would our faith be able to grow in such an environment? Would God still seem as big to us if we could demand an accounting from Him and He had to answer? If God were required to provide us with an explanation for everything He does, would He still seem like God in our eyes? Wouldn't we grow a bit bigger in our own eyes day by day until we began to view ourselves equal with Him? If that happened, though we would still desperately need a Savior, we would not know it. We could not accept it. Our pride wouldn't allow it. And we would be lost forever.

Our worship song link for today is below. It's a song about not always understanding God's plan but trusting Him anyway.
Thy Will

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