A few crumbs …

Feb-14-final (high quality)As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all. (Job 13:4)

Desperate times give way to desperate expressions of emotions. Our outbursts may not always be accurate or fair, but they are forceful. One of the distinctive features of the Judeo Christian revelation of God is its candor and honesty. Scripture never shirks the responsibility of exposing the duplicity or deceit of its people, especially those in high office. David does not get away with adultery and murder; Abraham concealing Sarah as his wife to save his life, is revealed; Peter’s duplicity in practicing different dietary standards between Jewish and Gentile believers is publically challenged. Mostly, we are uncomfortable with such rigorous investigation, all the more so, when it exposes our vulnerabilities.

Job is very forthright in his assessment of his three friends’ counsel. They came to support and encourage him in his suffering. Job had just lost seven sons, three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen, and most of his servants in catastrophes that devastated his wealth, status and reputation. His wife’s counsel was to “curse God and die.” Hardly appropriate!

To be a “Job comforter” is a term of derision. It refers to one who is more harmful than helpful. The book of Job is a specific insight into some of the reasons for the adversities and hardships of life. Our lives are not just an expression of what is finite, earthly and visible. There are occasions when our lives and our faith in Christ and His redemptive work will be tested. (Job 1:8-10 & Job 2:4-7). This testing is not just for our own sakes, but also to express and demonstrate to invisible beings and spiritual forces, the substance of our hope and trust in God through Christ Jesus. In the case of Job the price was extreme. However Job demonstrated in the most magnificent way possible, the truth about which Paul wrote, “that in all these things we are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37).

The truth of life is that bad things happen to good people. It is painful, and tragic, and true. Our problems start when we try and offer counsel and explanations for events for which we clearly have no insight or understanding. Frequently we just do not know the reasons. To offer theological explanations and reasons for what we do not know is foolish and damaging. Foolish because we may extend a biblical precept into a situation to which it does not apply. This is exactly what Job’s friends did. They gave great theological dissertations that whilst doctrinally correct, were completely inappropriate. Our explanations may be damaging because instead of providing solace and comfort, we may increase the pain and confusion.

When life is hard, and friends and fellow believers are battling, they need to be reminded that behind the tragedy and excruciation of the cross is a compassionate and ever merciful God. With the eye of faith we need to keep a perspective that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” By keeping these truths before us, and admitting our limited understanding, we are unlikely to be described “as forgers of lies and worthless physicians!”