So I’m onto the book of Job. Job’s story is important because it has a message that is relevant to all of us who have at some point struggled with the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Job lived at around the same time as Abraham, in the land of Uz, with his wife and family. Job had a pretty good life — he had a nice house, a large family, and extensive livestock and servants. Yet, despite all that he had, Job did not grow vain. He helped the poor and the fatherless, and people knew him for his deeds. And Job recognized that all of his blessings came from the Lord; he was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) Then one day, Satan challenged God, saying, “Your servant Job worships you only because you have blessed him abundantly. If you let me take away everything he has and strike him down, he will surely turn away from you.” God accepted the dare, saying, “Very well; everything Job has is in your power, but do not harm the man himself.”
Satan took everything away from Job, until the poor man had nothing left. He took away Job’s livestock and servants, destroyed his house, and killed his children. Yet, despite his tremendous losses, Job continued to praise the Lord and did not charge Him with wrongdoing. God granted Satan one more opportunity, this time permitting him to harm Job himself, while sparing his life. Satan afflicted Job with painful, festering skin sores all over his body, adding to the poor, mourning man’s wretchedness. Job was suffering tremendous pain, pain that he could not escape from; Satan had struck both his body and his heart. There had never been a more miserable existence than Job’s. Job turned against God, blaming Him for all the bad things that had happened to him, cursing the Lord’s name and his own existence, though Satan was really the one to blame, not God. Job questioned the Lord’s fairness and justice, protesting that he was blameless and had never done anything to deserve his afflictions. But it was only when God asked Job a few questions of His own that Job realized that the the Lord deserved to be glorified and praised because of who He was, not because of what He gave. All along, the Lord had been testing Job’s faithfulness, as He knew that He would be the one to triumph in the end. Once Job realized what he had done, he apologized to God, and God gave him back everything that Satan had taken away from him, and much more.
Bad things happen to us. They just do. At times, it may be difficult to remember that God is the one in charge, and that He has our lives in His hands. However, sometimes, when it seems as if our life is ending and the world is against us, I have found that it helps simply to step outside. Especially in the spring season, as flowers are blooming and plants sprouting and new life beginning, God’s magnificent creation is in full display. We can see little glimpses of God’s divine majesty and heavenly authority all around us amidst the simple beauty of nature. He is the Lord who made the heavens and the earth! Can’t we trust Him to take care of us, as He cares for the flowers and the trees and the animals? Can’t we hope in His unfailing love and justice, and trust that everything He does is in our best interest? Can’t we understand that we will NEVER understand, and can’t we praise Him anyway? Today I ventured outside with my camera, and was surprised at the beauty I found all around me in my own backyard, reminding me that God is with us always; we just have to look for Him.
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?”
“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.”
“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!”
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?”
“Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?”
“Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?”
“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?” ~Job 38
Happy Spring, everyone!
Your friend, Olivia