The mysterious why

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33, NKJV).

One of the courses which I teach is “Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament” which includes the Book of Job. In that book a central theme is the question of why good people suffer. Or as Job himself expresses it, “What have I done to You O watcher of men? Why have you set me as Your target? (Job 7:20). Job had no problem understanding that whatever happened to him, God is ultimately responsible. But he did not understand why. Continue reading “The mysterious why”

Someone who will take our side

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Job?

One minute he had been one of the wealthiest men of his area and the next he had lost everything. Then his friends showed up (at least they were friends enough to show up) to try to offer some comfort. Initially it seems they did not know what to say – after all, what do you say to someone who has lost everything he owned, his family and even his health. They sat with him for a week without saying anything (Job 2:13). Continue reading “Someone who will take our side”

Why do the wicked prosper?

As Job’s friends continued to try to reason with him, they were reflecting their own world-view, a view that many people still have today. That view stated that if someone was wealthy, it was obviously because God was blessing them. If they were in poverty or if bad things happened to them, it was because God had withdrawn his blessings due to sin in their lives. Continue reading “Why do the wicked prosper?”

It’s your own fault

As we read through the dialogue in Job, we have the advantage of knowing what was in chapter 1. It was there that God declared that there was no one like Job: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8 NET). As we read through the dialogue between Job and his three friends, keep in mind that Job is innocent of doing anything that caused the calamities that he has had to endure. Continue reading “It’s your own fault”

It would be better if I had never been born

The tradition in the Galloway home on Christmas Eve is to watch two seasonal films before retiring. One of those might be “A Christmas Carol” (either the Muppet or Patrick Stewart version), or it might be “Christmas with the Kranks,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Family Man,” or even “The Grinch.” But each year, without fail, the second film we watch is Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart. We began with a very cheap DVD of it and have finally progressed to the colourised version. Continue reading “It would be better if I had never been born”

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away

Job was an exceptional man. God described him in these terms: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8 NET).

In worldly terms he was rich and successful. In the list of what he owned were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, plus many servants. These were what made a man wealthy in the East and in his day. Although we aren’t given an exact time that he lived, it would appear to be in the time of Patriarchs, as we shall later see. Continue reading “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away”

Why me, Lord?

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ . . . But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 1:21; 2:10 NKJV).

Some of the greatest questions faced by humans are those related to suffering. Why does suffering come? Why do innocent people suffer? Why do some seem to suffer disproportionately? These have no easy answers and contemplation of them causes great anguish to many. Continue reading “Why me, Lord?”

Suffering – assayer of men and God

Few situations evoke the questions that suffering produces. The furnace of suffering within the book of Job appears intended to offer us much more than the shallow solace that our suffering could have been worse.

This book raises the stakes. We are invited to explore whether human piety can rise to altruism and whether God’s workings are merely simplistic computations. The conclusions impact how we understand life and live it.

Continue reading “Suffering – assayer of men and God”