Daily Devotional

Sunday, March 11, 2018

When Bad Things Happen

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” Job 38:1–4

Hard words. That is what Job received after lamenting his misfortune. Job had been as faithful as a person could be. His devotion to goodness and to God seemed to result in a life of blessing and abundance. But then his life was shattered. His family, his home, his possessions, and even the health of his body were taken away from him for no apparent reason. In the midst of his physical suffering and his personal anguish, Job asked that age-old question of those who have ever suffered needlessly: “Why?”

God’s answer to the suffering of people who are good or evil is less than comforting. Through the story of Job, we learn that we don’t even have the right to ask the question “Why?” We best not even try to contend with God, because we cannot even begin to count ourselves as equal with God. God’s will, God’s wisdom, and God’s work in the world are simply beyond our comprehension. Whether we like it or not, we are creatures who exist for no other reason than for the pleasure and purposes of God . . . and creatures have no right to question their Creator. Our best response to the good and bad of life should sound something like Job’s response to God’s challenge: “See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but will proceed no further.” The teaching is hard but true: rather than questioning God about our life, we should simply thank God for it. 

Do you blame God or someone else for the challenges of life?

Lord, I don’t like this teaching in Job. I want to be in conversation with you. I want to share my pain and frustration with you. I know I cannot claim equality with you, but I don’t want to be an insignificant creature in your cosmic creation either. Perhaps, I should be satisfied with the fact that I am, and you are, and whatever good or ill happens in life, we share in it together. Instead of complaining about misfortune, I can spend time giving you thanks for the life I have been given. Your words can be hard, Lord, but they help me to gain much-needed perspective. Thank you. In your name, I pray. AMEN.