Summary: – Life is not fair. God is. – Philip Yancey (Disappointment With God)
I like the comment that I recently read which said, “If you tell a man that there are 568,678,934,341 stars in the universe, he’ll believe you. But if a sign says, “Fresh Paint,” he has to make a personal investigation.”
Certain things in life create questions that move us to “personal investigation.” In addition, we have studied questions throughout the summer that people have for God that has placed us on a quest of personal investigation. We have fielded questions on many different issues such as child neglect, loving our enemies, and the beginning and end of human life.
This morning we deal with questions that are probably the most asked questions of all - questions about evil and suffering.
Questions like, “Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer?” Why do bad things (disease, death, loss of employment) happen to good people?
Why does it seem that the people who do believe have the worst things happen to them? Why do the people that don’t believe seem to have everything go their way?
Someone else asked, “Why (knowing that we would sin and some of us would ultimately go to hell) did He created us anyway? Why has so much evil been allowed to flourish on the earth, i.e. child molesters, killers?
These questions are hard questions because they are questions that raise issues about the nature and purpose of God, the nature and purpose of good and evil, and the nature and purpose of humankind.
Philip Yancey tells the story in his book, Disappointment With God, about a friend named Douglas who went through a series of terrible events. First, his wife developed breast cancer. Then one night, he and his family were involved in a head-on crash with a drunk driver. Douglas received a severe head injury that caused sudden and debilitating headaches that kept him from working a full day and enjoying the ability to read like he used to while still having to caring for his wife.
Yancey called Douglas and asked if he could interview him for the book and noted, “By then I had interviewed a dozen people and heard the full range of disappointment with God. If anyone had a right to be angry at God, Douglas did.”
Yancey began the interview with a couple of questions, “Could you tell me about your own disappointment? (And) What have you learned that might help someone else going through a difficult time?”
To Yancey’s great surprise, Douglas said, “To tell you the truth, Philip, I didn’t feel any disappointment with God…. The reason is this. I learned, first through my wife’s illness and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life.”
He continued, “I’m no stoic. I am as upset about what happened to me as anyone could be. I feel free to curse the unfairness of life and to vent all my grief and anger. But I believe God feels the same way about that accident-grieved and angry. I don’t blame him for what happened.”
It is interesting to note that in the chapter (titled, by the way, “Is God Unfair?”) that Douglas’ story appears under the section entitled, “A Modern Job.” This brings us to our main text for this morning.
I want to read it again then make some comments on it as well as some segments from Job 1.
One day the angels came again to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan the Accuser came with them. “Where have you come from?” the LORD asked Satan.
And Satan answered the LORD, “I have been going back and forth across the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you persuaded me to harm him without cause.”
Satan replied to the LORD, “Skin for skin—he blesses you only because you bless him. A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, do with him as you please,” the LORD, said to Satan. “But spare his life.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with a terrible case of boils from head to foot.
Then Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”
But Job replied, “You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.