Summary: Crisis and Choice, Pt. 4
WHEN LIFE SEEMS UNFAIR (JOB 1:1-2:10)
The year 2001 was a sad year for a family I had known for more than ten years. The family was a staunch Christian family and for four generations the tight-knit family had served tirelessly in church. The matriarch of the family was a widow and her two sons and only daughter were pioneers of two churches and, including their daughters-in-law, the family counted five deacons who were actively involved in three churches.
Things began to unravel at the beginning of the year. The matriarch of the family died in April and even though she died at a ripe old age, the death was a shock the family. Three months later, her daughter-in-law, who had suffered a stroke and had spent more than a year in a convalescent hospital, also died. And in a cruel twist of fate, the matriarch’s daughter Sue suffered a mysterious illness about the same time her sister-in-law was buried.
I visited Sue ten days before she passed away. For a long time, she kept the news of her illness from friends. She was uneasy about how she looked but was happy to see me. She was literally just half the person she used to be. Three months after the last burial in the family, Sue passed away and I was invited to give the benediction at her funeral service the weekend before Thanksgiving. The family told me how happy they were that I saw her before she passed away and revealed that Sue had actually seen me at a restaurant when she could still walk, but felt too embarrassed to approach me.
Such is the inner guilt, social stigma and endless suspicion that sometimes befall godly Christians and their families when faced with suffering.
One of the most mesmerizing, puzzling and unpopular passages in the Bible is, no doubt, the story of Job. Job was a moral, wealthy and godly man. As the story unfolds, his life was likened to a bad movie script, in which his children were like extras that died in the first scene and the plot that followed resembled a boring screenplay of all dialogue and little action – with two chapters on tragedy and forty chapters on philosophy. Scholars largely agree that Job was a contemporary of Abraham and lived before the Jewish nation was founded. Therefore, Job’s account is the only biblical account of an individual stripped of cultural, national or even Jewish ties. Job is a universal and personal story, too, a story too close to home. It is easy to cry for Job, to sympathize and identify with him, because you may have gone through or know of someone who has gone through or is going through unspeakable pain and extreme suffering.
Job is a profile of courage in the face of adversity, because Job did not give up on his character, give in to his pain and give way to Satan. What are we to do when encountering adversity? How can we help others who are suffering? Why does God allow and not banish difficulty and even danger from outlives?
Be True in Adversity
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 1:20-2:3)