Job never knew why. In my study Bible the commentary introducing the book of Job says, “Job is the hero of the book which bears his name.” I’m pretty sure, after having read the book, that there were times that Job didn’t feel very much like a hero. The whole premise of the book is that good, upright, men and women sometimes have to deal with severe and unexplainable (from a human viewpoint) sorrows.
If you are not already familiar with Job, let me introduce his four “friends” Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu. They were sure that Job’s suffering was a result of some sin and that he should repent. It is clear to them that his repentance is the only thing that could ever bring relief. Unfortunately, most people who suffer a great loss will also have at one time or another some well-intentioned people try to explain it away. And it hurts. And they are wrong…usually. If they are not incorrect, they are wrong for saying hurtful things.
Neither Job nor his friends had the advantage that we have today of reading chapters one and two in the book. Whether or not you believe it should have played out the way it did, we have, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.” Job didn’t have the rest of the story. When Job lost all his children he said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” When Job lost his health and his wife suggested that he “Curse God and die,” he replied, “You are talking foolishly woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”
Finally Job reached his breaking point in Job 23:2-9. He said, “If I could only find God I would demand Why? I would insist on knowing why, and God would have to answer. But God is nowhere to be found.”
Could Job’s inability to hear from God be unique to Job? I have heard too many dedicated saints of God with the same “Why” question to believe that it was unique to him. In fact, it seems that this same phenomenon happens to most of us at one time or another in our lives. We think we have a right to know why and when we don’t get an answer, or when we don’t get the answer that we want, we get confused and angry.
Why would Jesus say, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings (a farthing was ¼ of a penny), and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows.”(Matthew 10:29) Then not even show up when His best friend Lazarus was sick to the point of knocking on death’s door? It’s no wonder Lazarus’ sisters were upset with the Master when He showed up three days late. (John 11:32)
Why would Jesus…”speak a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1) then seemingly hide, or at least there be no answer that we can hear? Some of the bitterest people that I know are Christians who are angry because God didn’t show up when they waited for Him. It seems almost easier for the person who does not believe in a loving God when life turns sour because they never expected anything.
If you are one who feels disillusioned and confused, I write this with you in mind. I know that you are hurting and my heart goes out to you. I hear you describe the pain that you felt when your child died, or your beloved wife passed away, or your very best friend was taken from you. You could not explain the devastating tornado, or the fire, or the flood…and worst of all was when the insurance company called it, “an act of God.” The examples are endless. I just hope that right now you are not expecting to read an answer in the next paragraph or in the next installment of this blog, because I can’t answer why.
I feel your pain, and I join you in asking, “Why?” For the heartsick, bleeding soul out there today who is desperate for a word of encouragement, let me assure you that you can trust the Lord of heaven and earth. Even though, as far as I can tell Job never knew why, his health was restored, his wealth returned, and he had twice as many children at his death…half in heaven and half surrounding him on earth. THERE IS HOPE even if there we never understand why.