How is it that we question God’s goodness when tragedy strikes “good” people? We blame God and demand answers for the fallen state of human existence when we need to look no further than the mirror to discover the reason we personally deserve death and all the consequence of the fall. (See Romans 3:23)
Think of Job, who being counted righteous and blameless before God, stands as the epitome of “good people.” The New Living Translation says he was a man of “complete integrity.”
In light of Job’s blameless state one might come to the conclusion he had great kids and a Proverbs 31 woman keeping his household in order. An assumption that may very well prove to be true.
This verse that opens the book of Job is vital to our understanding of God’s power and presence in tragedy. Job’s story may help us understand why good people are not immune to the bad things of human existence.
Consider Job’s case regarding his children. Not only was he righteous and blameless before God (Job 1:1), but he also would go to the temple and intercede on their behalf just in case they happened to sin. Think of it, He didn’t just pray for them. He made burnt offerings to the Lord on their behalf.
A Burnt Offering.
This would be the equivalent of a modern day father giving his very best gift to the local church in addition to his regular tithe for each of his children every week.
How many children did Job have? Ten. His regular practice was to intercede on their behalf before God and make a sacrifice for each one of them. He didn’t even know for sure they were doing anything wrong. He took his responsibility as their father seriously. (Job 1:5)
If anyone had a case before God for a wrongful death claim, it would’ve been Job. So why was Job tormented so?
Because Satan wanted to test a blessed man’s faith in God. God, Himself, highlighted Job. “Have you considered my servant, Job?”
And Satan brought an accusation before God about him.
Satan replied to the LORD, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence. (Job 1:9-12 NLT)
Did you catch that? God said, “All right, you may test him.” So many times, people say a just God, a compassionate and loving God would not let bad things happen to good, godly folk.
God lifted His protection from Job and allowed Satan access to Job’s life because there was something greater at stake. You see, God went “all in” against Satan regarding Job’s faith. As much as Job believed in and trusted God, God also entrusted to Job His reputation with His “arch nemesis.”
It makes me think of this commendation:
…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. (Luke 12:48b NLT)
Job’s initial response to the loss of his entire family save his wife, all his possessions and his business lead us to the most remarkable statement ever uttered by a grieving parent. Scripture tells us he tore his robe and shave doff his hair falling to his knees before God in worship.
He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21 NLT)
Why is it that we marvel at the strength we see in people of faith during trying circumstances? The Lord promises us His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I cannot imagine a weaker state than learning in one day that your son’s house burned to the ground killing all your children, the stock market just crashed wiping out your life savings and everything you owned was suddenly blown away in a tornado. Exactly where we find Job at the end of Chapter One of the book bearing his name. And in a remarkable moment of strength he humbles himself before God and worships.
We marvel when people of faith suffer tragedy and find peace in the midst of their storms. Yet, Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but to have faith for He, Himself, overcame the world. (John 16:33) He also promised those who “take up their cross and follow Him” that His peace has been left with them. (John 14:27)
If you are in Christ, you have right now the very peace of Jesus. Peace that allowed Him to be arrested, accused and executed without protest, without fight and to go to the cross and suffer an excruciating death. All of this for the crime of actually BEING the Son of God. Peace. Peace that Paul writes passes all understanding. (see Philippians 4:6-7)
Why is it we are so quick to question God when tragedy strikes?
Why is it we doubt His power and His presence when we suffer?
It is rooted in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve each sinned against God by buying into the devil’s original lie. They believed God was holding out on them, just as many who question God’s goodness when tragedy and atrocities come into our lives.
The original lie posed in the form of a question, “Did God really say?”
By the time the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil lay half eaten on the ground, Adam and Eve had embraced the lie that God indeed is not all sufficient and will not take care of us. They were then turned out to their own devices and human knowledge and ability by which to judge the works of God.
Perhaps this is why we are so surprised when God’s grace is sufficient in times of great suffering. You see In the Garden, in communion with God, Adam and Eve did not know life apart from a Kingdom perspective. The curse of the fall left them groping for answers in a miserable existence that affirmed what the enemy tried to persuade them to believe. God abandoned you. You can’t count on Him. He is holding out on you.
Job worshipped God because somehow, in spite off all he lost that day, he knew that no matter what happened God was with him. God would not fail him. A here from there kind of living that is born of a deep and abiding relationship with God. A Kingdom focused heart that understands God’s glory requires miracles and that His love produces blessing. Whether the suffering is a test or discipline, God’s glory in the life of a transformed believer produces the testimony that together with the blood of Christ overcomes the enemy of God for all eternity.
Job’s reward no doubt was truly found in heaven. Still on earth, after a grieving season in which he wrestled with the agony of loss and came to a deeper understanding of his God, Job received double restoration including ten more children to bless his home and extend his legacy. And it is a testimony to God’s truth, grace and love not the warped definition of God’s sovereignty that the world tries to sell. A lie as old as the garden itself.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?