The Book of Job (Not The Problem of Evil, But The Problem of God!)December 19, 2007
Allowing evil is not a problem for God. Therefore, evil is not our ultimate problem, God is. We are all at the mercy of a God we cannot control. This seems to be Job’s greatest contention. Job is not asking “why does a loving God allow suffering”. After all, Job himself is the one who said “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? (2:10)” Job knows that it is within the character and nature of God to permit and allow suffering. Job’s contention with the suffering is that he feels it’s undeserved.
Contrary to common thought, Job is wondering why God is allowing this tragedy since Job himself knows that he is an upright man. Job is not concerned with the “what” as much as he is with the “why”. Why is God doing this? His friends are telling him it’s because of some secret sin. Job stands his ground by insisting that he did nothing more wrong than anyone else, and even probably has done less wrong.
But this all makes one think… “what is the point of living or existing when God does all that He pleases apart from us? How can we possibly take comfort in managing our own lives when God Himself is un-manageable? What possible assurance do we have in this life if we are dealing with an unsafe and unpredictable sovereign Being?” Such a God permits catastrophes if He so wills, and even to those He favors!
But the answer is not some concept outside of God. Otherwise we would have to consult some arbitrary comfort outside of God as to why He does what He does. If so, we would derive our hope from some special “reason” apart from God when encountering circumstances we don’t like in life. But God’s own character is the substance of God’s answer to Job. God Himself is Job’s reason for accepting hardship. God is the hope Job will soon look to.
Again, Job is not expecting God to pull back the cosmic curtain and shine floodlights down the corridors of his life so he can gleam into God’s higher causes for allowing suffering. Job is content with his suffering! He is not interested in viewing God as a cosmic convenience like we do. He is not concerned with a God who declares 1. “give lip service to Jesus sometime between your birth day and your death day and you’ll escape the inconvenience of hell-fire.” or 2. “Jesus is your door way into accessing convenience so you will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams.” No, the question that haunts Job is “why live and carry on when I can never be certain of what God might deal me next?!” That is a terrifying notion which can make one feel estranged because it means we are stripped of ultimate control of our lives. That is why Job fought with God’s unpredictable sovereignty, not the fact he was suffering.
Now think about this: What does God tell Job which will 1. convict Job for having challenged God’s ultimate ‘say so’ and 2. give Job the hope he’s looking for? The answer God gives is God Himself. God explains to Job that 1. Job has no other option but to depend on Him. Job’s very existence depends upon God (38:4) 2. That God knows what He’s doing. His wisdom can be profoundly attested to in His own brilliant creation (38:5-40:7) and 3. Anything God does can never be wrong. Everything He does is right. (40:8-41:34)”
Again, Job does not ask “what is the good in all this suffering God?” Job wants to know how you reconcile an untamable God with life. After God makes the above 3 things crystal clear, Job’s response is “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you (42:2-6).
It was when Job saw God as He is that he was comforted. By seeing and understanding who God really is was enough to rest Job’s worried mind. As C.S. Lewis said, “God is not safe, but He is good.” If we read Job and do not start to see God in the light that Job did, we must pray that we might begin to. I know I must. When we begin understand that God is wild and un-tamable, we might all the more declare with a smile “if the Lord wills I will live and do this or that (James 4:15).”