This was a tough week for me
. In fact I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. On Monday, I got a call that our friends baby was still born. Then yesterday, Will passed away. 53 years old. Fun-loving, free spirited, Christ-centered. Stunning family. Scores of people over decades were deeply and eternally changed for Christ by this wonderful, delightful man. Cancer took him down, leaving behind a wife and three children who still need him.
The question is why
? I know that I certainly dont have the answer. Years ago I was in the United Nations building in New York and observed a massive tapestry two stories in length. Viewed from the back side it presented a confusing array of fabric endings. Observed from the front, the tapestry displayed a stunning scene of an African country side. I suspect that this side of eternity, we are viewing the backside of lifes tapestry. "We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (I Cor. 13:12 Msg)
In my time alone with God these days, I am meditating my way through the Book of Job, which is the story of a righteous man who lost his children, possessions, health, and reputation. Behind the scenes a drama is being played out between God and Satan. Satan asserts that Jobs loyalty to God would disappear, were it not for the "perks" the Almighty has afforded him. God then gives Satan access to Job to test his allegations. Thus Jobs losses. Ultimately God restores Job from his devastating experience, but never explains the "why" behind the suffering.
Following are several observations from the Book of Job that might give us respite amidst lifes unanswerables,
Living a righteous life does not insulate us from suffering: "In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evilHe was the greatest man among all the people of the East. " (Job 1:1,3b) (See I Pet. 4:12,13)
There is a lot going on behind the scenes with God that is not ours to know. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God" (Deut. 29:29a) (See Job 1,2; 11:7; Act. 1:7; 1 Cor. 2:16)
The drama being played out in the Book of Job is primarily about the glory of God. (See Job 1:6-12; 2:3-6)
God can and does put a "hedge" around us, but reserves the right to remove that protection: Satan to God, "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face. The Lord said to Satan, Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." (Job 1:10-12a)
Our reactions are the true indicators of our "righteousness": At the news that he had lost almost everything, "Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 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. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." (Job 1:20b-22)