Thursday, January 12, 2012

Goodness, Love and Mercy

Reading Job raises questions about the goodness, love and mercy of God. Job's story is well known: in a rather short time, Job experienced a virtual tsunami of horrific tragedies that overturned his well ordered life. He lost his ten children, his homes, his health, his reputation, his marriage almost splintered under the strain and he lost his accumulated wealth.

Question of the ages
The question that is asked repeatedly is why? Not just why people in general suffer, but why do the righteous suffer?

No definitive answers are given, even though his "friends," with their "cause and effect" view of morality, insist that Job committed an unrighteous act against God and is therefore suffering for the wrongs he has done. This is view is prevalent in the minds of people today. It's another version of works-righteousness.

His "friends" were supposed to provide comfort to him (Job 2:11), but Job ends up calling them miserable comforters with simplistic answers ( Job 21:34) because they prodded and lectured him with their self-righteous ways. The ignorance of Job’s friends shows how small a part of any situation is the fragment that they see. 

Life is hard
The only real answer given is the mystery of God. Job illustrates for the believer that life is tenuous. Every material thing and possession has stamped on it temporary. We live in a fallen world where suffering and pain abounds on every hand but Job reminds us that God is present, not absent; God is redeeming the world through Christ.

Only God has the answer
In the end, only God is constant. Our responsibility is not to unravel the mystery of God's ways but to trust, obey and submit our lives to the eternal plan of God (Job 42:1-6).

Calvin emphasized that whatever God has decreed that has not yet been publicly revealed through God's prophets is beyond our capacity to know. We must not try to figure out God's ways; that's an exercise in futility (Isaiah 55: 8-9). Rather we must trust in the revealed will and ways of God---goodness, mercy, and love. In the end this is only truth that comforted Job.

Question: In the times you have suffered what have you  learned about yourself and God?