So says Zophar, one of Job’s friends. He is sure he knows the secret of Job’s suffering: Job is a man so plenteous in sin that even God can’t keep track of it all. He thinks that the mystery of Job’s ill-fortune is no mystery at all; Job is as guilty as can be—even if his wickedness is not clearly visible to observers. Zophar is typical of far too many religious commentators, who think they can explain events in the lives of others. Suffering is a great mystery. Therefore,
Many a man, many a woman, has spoken thus. These are words wrung from the lips of persons who cannot make sense of the catastrophe that has befallen them. Too often they are voiced be people of faith; faith God will always prevent bad things happening to good people, but when cold, brute experience tells them something else, they wish for non-existence. Job started out assuming the faith-wisdom of the age—and it was not enough; he needed more. So do we.
Here is the exclamation of a man astounded as he realizes he is in no position to influence God or to bring him round to his view of what is just or unfair in the world. In every aspect of his existence, Job knows that he is not God’s equal. It is his place to wait on God. I have no claim on God either. In all aspects of my life, I depend on God’s generosity and kindness. Among all the graces from his supply, mercy is most abundant—and most needed.
This question is not one of awe and wonder that God should show an interest in mankind. Rather it conveys perplexity that human existence seems to be in the form of a moral trial. Yes, God does permit a significant proportion of our experience to be inexplicable to us. Under such conditions virtue and worth do not happen by default. They come only through personal effort and volition. Those elements of life that we treasure most might not exist at all without the other part
Men and women, especially those in agricultural or horticultural tasks, are well-placed to understand something of what God thinks and feels as regards his relationship to human beings. Farmers take care in a range of actions with regard to their plants and crops. Soil preparation, watering, weed control and pruning are some of them. But there are limits to what the farmer can do. Mankind is likened to a plant which has the potential to bear fruit. God hopes for such an outc
Is life a bubble or an egg? Is the present merely a rehashing of what has always been or the beginning of something new? Is the universe a self-contained system, admitting of no outside interference? Are my own two hands and whatever wit I can muster all that I can look to if I wish to forge significance for myself? Abram believed the voice that spoke to him from outside humdrum world of practiced usage and set him on a path of discovery. He became accessory to things not ye
When I was just a boy, my leg was run over by a horse-drawn wagon. Nothing was broken, and I soon got over it. But at the time, the world was made up of my suffering alone. It would not have made any difference to me if someone had been shot right beside me. My pain filled the universe. Job was so overcome with his troubles that he wanted to find a way to express the sheer magnitude of them to his friends. It is so with all of us—throughout our days. There is never and s
The ancient wise man was breathless with wonder at the generous rain which fell on the earth, slaking human thirst and causing food to grow. With the same rapture and awe, he could speak of God’s tendency to practice values completely opposite to human ones. ‘He promotes the lowly.’ God honours what we despise. Next time it rains, think of these two wonders.
‘Ain’t that the truth!’ is a response which many might murmur to themselves after reading the last part of this passage. Life does not run smoothly for anyone, for long. But what of the first part of the quotation? It seems to say something else. Namely, that trouble is not without a cause. Much suffering is indeed inexplicable: famine, earthquake, hurricane, flood and fire. But just as much—possibly much more—has a personal cause: war, oppression, crime, graft, greed—and on
Proverbs are the considered reflections of individuals who have been around for a while and know a thing or two about how things go in the world. This wise observer sees that resentment and envy have a negative effect on persons in whom they are nurtured. Harsh and unfair things may happen, but the wiser man will choose not to pity himself.