Do we really know what God is doing in our lives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Lately my wife has been reading Job and when she does, it’s an interesting experience. She doesn’t just read the book to herself. She reads it quietly, but in an audible voice. I can hear what she is saying which gives a new way to really interact with the book. Many of us might not understand reading out loud today for private reading, but in the past it was the norm. Augustine was surprised when he walked in on his teacher, Ambrose of Milan, reading silently.
Something that occurs to me hearing the accounts is that in the first two chapters, we are told what is going on behind the scenes and we have no indication Job was ever told it nor his friends. If they were, they certainly didn’t know about it during the discussion in the book of Job. Yet what happens when we get to this discussion?
Everyone apparently “knows” what is going on. They all know what God is doing. This includes Job. Job knows that God has turned on Him and is ignoring Him and is not being just with Him. Job wants to have his day in court. Job wants to speak to God about what has happened.
Meanwhile, his friends have the wisdom of the ages. Eliphaz tells Job that men with gray hair older than his father are on his side. These people also “know” that Job has sinned. They “know” that he just needs to repent and get right with God and then everything will be right for him.
These people all sound too much like modern-day Christians in the West.
Many times when I go to a church service, I hear the speaker talking about everything that God is doing in the life of the church. I always want to ask how they know that. How do you know that what is happening is because of the activity of God? I am not ruling out that they could be right. It could be the hand of God. I want to know how do they know.
We are all too quick to speak what God is doing into someone else’s life. This is especially so when disaster strikes. Christians at funerals can say some of the worst things ever. Their intentions can be noble to provide comfort, but they are not. Imagine telling small children that God took their mother away because He needed another angel. Bad theology aside that human beings become angels, what view does that give the children of God?
When a disaster strikes, it’s too easy for Christian leaders to stand up and say that it’s judgment. Consider when AIDS showed up and it was a divine judgment on the homosexual community. Of course, I do not support homosexual activity, but what are we to say if a cure shows up? God wanted to judge the community, but He couldn’t overcome science? What kind of God is that?
When an earthquake or a hurricane hits anywhere, I don’t bother listening to people who claim that this is the judgment of God. Again, it could be, but I want to see some real evidence of that first. I want to know why I should accept this person as a prophet speaking with divine authority.
In our own lives when suffering comes, there’s nothing wrong with looking at yourself and seeing if you need to repent in some way. After all, we all always do. None of us lives a life that we ought to be living. Still, it is false to always think it must be because of a sin and once we repent, God will restore us. That is actually the very way of thinking being challenged in Job and yet we still hold to it today.
If someone you know is suffering, one of the best things you can do is what Job’s friends did originally. Be there. At the start of the book, the friends show up and they just sit there. No one says anything. The gift of presence was enough.
Most of us have a hard enough time figuring out why we ourselves do things. It is quite arrogant to struggle with that and still think that we know why God is doing what He is doing. Of course, He is active in the world, but we need to be careful when we try to say what He is and isn’t doing. Speaking for God and about Him should never be taken lightly.
Remember, in the end, everyone was wrong even though everyone was convinced they were right. None of them saw properly what was really happening to Job and all of them got humbled. Let’s not make the same mistake lest we also have to get humbled for speaking out of turn.