Summary: Dealing with questions in time of mourning and loss with the help of the book Job.
Questions we have for God in the Attack on America
sept 16, 2001
At 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning September 11th, our world changed. America under terrorist attack in a way that is ushering the US into the 1st war of the 21st century. Just as things have never been the same since December 7, 1941, they will never be the same from here on. "I looked at the television and an airplane was crashing into a building," Barry Bonds said of the SF Giants. "I didn’t know what was going on. I just feel for those people. I don’t know what to say in words." Today we feel for the people in America, today we pray for that nation as they mourn. Preachers throughout North America will be stumbling over words to say, I include myself in that company. I trust my feeble attempts will help you.
So many questions confront us and so few answers are available. As I watched the TV, listened to the radio, listened to people: I have been struck by the questions: Why did they do that? How can people be so evil? Who is to blame? Where is God? What can I do? And are we still in danger? Questions are so hard to answer in tragic times. But we ask questions nonetheless in the moments of pain and crisis.
If you were to take a tour of the Bible you would find that one book has a more disproportionate number of questions than any other. Which book is that? It is the book of Job. Job has over 330 questions in it’s 42 chapters. The first book of the bible, Genesis, only has 160. Matthew, the first book of the New Testament has around 180. And that’s odd because it seems that Jesus was asking questions every time he opened his mouth. Even the book of Psalms with its 150 chapters has only 160. So why does the book of Job have so many more questions? There is a very simple reason. It is because the book of Job deals with a horrible tragedy.
Here is what happened. Job is a righteous man. Greater than all others. A hedge, a barrier, a fence, is set around him, his family, and his business. Suddenly, without warning, and for no reason other than his being blameless and upright, his family and business is wiped out. In the middle of the business of everyday life two rogue groups from Arabia and Mesopotamia conduct a raid taking away Job’s livestock and putting his servants to the sword. Then his family is lost in a freak accident when a mighty wind sweeps in from the desert, strikes the four corners of the house, collapses it and all are lost. It was swift. It was unwarranted. It was unthinkable just like what occured in America on Sept.11.
Today, our very large neighbor, the US, their economy has been hit and hit hard, it too affects us deeply in Canada. In many ways the events of this past week seem eerily echoed in the story of Job. Why is there such a similarity between the events of Job and the events of our life this past week? It is because, even though 4000 years separated the two events, life, and I mean the things that make life meaningful, have not changed at all. Not even over 4 millennium. Today we can thank God He left us this book, we need to hear from God in this time of terror and mourning that has gripped many lives.
I. So what do we do?
We do what Job did when he learned of his loss. We mourn. He was silent when he received the first two reports that his business and livestock had been wiped out. But when he received the news that his children were lost… He got up and tore his robe. Then, he feel on his knees and mourned and worshipped (v.1-20): “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return, the LORD gave , and the LORD has taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD.” In other words, everything that had meaning in his life was gone. But yet he comes and recognizes that God is in charge. Somehow, this has not escaped God’s eyes. In his heart of hearts, Job did not, as we see in 1:22, bring any charges against God. As he came into this world so Job felt he was leaving it: Barren and he feels the pain that death and sorrow can bring. And it is so right to mourn and mourn by pouring out our brokeness barrenness, emptiness, hurts and pains before God. It is so right to worship, to tear the robes, shave the head, be mournful and yet it is all about worship.