Randy kissed me goodbye for the day and I stayed planted, drinking my final cup of coffee in my usual spot on the sofa. As I heard the front door close with my hubby’s leaving, over my shoulder a strange thing began to happen. My computer on my lap was growing unreadable. The screen washed out. It felt like an alien invasion from the movies. What was going on? Something definitely “alien” was happening. The morning was not starting out as expected.
It was the sun. Since I had not seen it in umpteen days, it was unexpected. And very, very welcome.
Unexpected because the national weather radar showed another day of rain for most of the country, including our little region. And because when you wake up every day to clouds, gray skies, mist, drizzle or downpour, you begin to believe you will never see the sunshine again.
There are many days on this green earth like that. Times do get tough, depressing, struggling and down. Times when you feel like you’ll never ever see the sun again.
Job sure felt that.
I’ve been reading about this man who was singled out by satan.
He had some very, very bad days.
Job was a good man who trusted God. But he had terrible troubles.
Job thought that God caused his troubles. That wasn’t true, but Job was human and he didn’t have the spiritual wisdom – the discernment – to realize the evil one caused his problems, not God. So Job blamed God. The Bible story tells us that Job never said anything bad about God. He just blamed him for all that was going wrong in his life. He was miserable, angry and ranted aloud why God allowed him to lose his wife, children, house, livestock – everything- and so he furiously cried out his disappointment in the God who was causing the trouble.
“…know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me.
Though I cry, ‘I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.” Job 19:6-7
Job’s friends were not bashful about bashing God either. They thought God wouldn’t allow an innocent man to suffer, so they guessed that Job had done bad things, something to make God angry with him. They believed Job caused his own suffering by sinning.
Oh, that we would be so lucky to have “good” friends like these!
Job’s friends: “Is not your wickedness great!” Job 22:5.
Job: “All my close friends hate me;
even those I love have turned against me.” Job 19:19
The fact of the story. And the point to the story is God did not cause Job’s troubles. God merely permitted Job to suffer. And through the loss, sickness, pain, grief, all the horrendous troubles, God tested Job’s trust in Him. Job’s wrong? His fault? Blaming God for bad things.
Job’s friends were trying to help him, they just got it all wrong. How could a good God allow an innocent person to suffer? How can someone who is so good, so true to God, so trusting of God ever have to suffer? His friends guessed that Job had done many wicked things (Job 22:4-11). Even after Job argued with them and told them that he was innocent, they still thought he had to be wrong in the sight of God. Their wrong. Blaming Job for all the things happening to him.
Job was wrong.
His friends were wrong.
God does not cause suffering.
It’s true, it’s possible, we don’t always create our own troubles.
Death. Loss. Cancer. Worry. Anxiety. Stress.
We live in a fallen world.
A sin-filled, sick, wrong world.
We were not made for this. (The is the reason we who believe are anxious to get off this planet.)
Job had a wiser man come to him. A younger man, but wiser. Elihu. He told Job:
“I tell you, you are not right in saying this,
because God is greater than we are.
Why do you accuse God?” Job 33:12-13
This young man explains that God cannot make mistakes. He doesn’t create bad things. He can’t. He’s God, after all.
It’s impossible for God to do anything evil;
no way can the Mighty One do wrong.
…It’s impossible for God to do anything wicked,
for the Mighty One to subvert justice.
He’s the one who runs the earth!
He cradles the whole world in his hand! Job 34:10-14 (the Message)
Elihu tells them what they couldn’t see themselves.
“Well, I’m going to show you
that you don’t know what you’re talking about,
neither you nor your friends.
Look up at the sky. Take a long hard look.
See those clouds towering above you?
If you sin, what difference could that make to God?
No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him?
Even if you’re good, what would God get out of that?
Do you think he’s dependent on your accomplishments?
The only ones who care whether you’re good or bad
are your family and friends and neighbors.
God’s not dependent on your behavior.”
“When times get bad, people cry out for help.
They cry for relief from being kicked around,
But never give God a thought when things go well,
when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts.” Job 34:4-9
“When things go badly,
when affliction and suffering descend,
God tells them where they’ve gone wrong,
shows them how their pride has caused their trouble.” Job 36: 14-15 (The Message)
Why did Job, a good man, struggle, suffer, grief, hurt? Here’s the answer:
“But God saves those who suffer through their suffering;
he gets them to listen through their pain.
God is gently calling you from the jaws of trouble to an open place of freedom
where he has set your table full of the best food.” Job 36:15-16
It’s a terrible and terrific cliche:
“We don’t appreciate the rainbow, if we haven’t experienced the rain.”
On days when disappointment, depression and darkness seem to overwhelm, God will get our attention if we are paying attention.
I love John Piper’s theology he gets from Job’s suffering.
“A young man appears on the scene in (Job) chapter 32 named Elihu. His speech goes all the way through chapter 37. And here we learn something that neither Job nor his friends had discovered, namely, that the suffering of the righteous is not a token of God’s enmity but of his love. It is not a punishment of their sins but a refinement of their righteousness. It is not a preparation for destruction, but a protection from destruction.” *
Rain-filled days, painful times, do get us down. It’s part of the human dilemma. It’s a conumdrum. A complex confusing thing. And then when the sunshine, when hope, finally does appear, we are surprised. In wonder. “There it is. It’s finally back! Wow!”
I know I have stood amazed at God many times… shocked. In awe. In reverence.
When God finally does speak to Job. To answer his questions and doubts. It’s kind of funny.
God speaks to Job – in a storm.
“Then the Lord answered Job from the storm.” Job 38:1
This God we love. He loves us so.
He’s something to be amazed by.
He never causes suffering. Sin. Trouble. Pain. That’s impossible for our God. But when we go through it. When I am in my dark place. I know when I finally am humbled and seek God’s face in my sorrow, pain, sickness. His wisdom. His grace. His love. His mercy and kindness… when He appears, as the sun did this morning, I am so glad to see Him.