I have often said that life is unfair. Those that we pass judgement on seem to do well while those that we feel deserve justice end up being hurt. It appears as if it is a muddle. I know that many people struggle with following GOD because it seems that He isn’t in control because of all the ‘unjustified’ suffering, and if He is in control why He doesn’t do something about it.
It appears that Job is thinking about this too.
Job’s friends are talking nonsense and Job knows it. They are accusing him of doing wrong and saying that is why he is being punished; that is why he is suffering. They haven’t checked out what they are saying at all. Job points out that if that were the case, people who do bad stuff would be worse off than him … but they are not. In fact, they seem untouched. They are watching their children being established, their homes are safe, their businesses flourish, they spend their years in prosperity and die in peace (Job 21:7-13). They have everything that Job has lost. Saying that bad people have bad stuff happen and good people have good happen just isn’t that obvious and clean cut.
Job even goes on to say that they say to GOD, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? What would we gain by praying to Him?’ (Job 21:14-15).
It seems that these people refuse to acknowledge GOD because they cannot see where He blesses and where He withholds evil. They do not see it. They are like the little bespectacled man on my page who knows everything there is to know, not seeing who is standing behind him. They take the blessings as either of their own making or some twist of fate. It is due to their own doing and their own strength. They prosper because of themselves. How often do we behave like this? How often this week have I said thank you to GOD for the little things in my life as well as the big things? Have I just disregarded His hand on my life?
And yet, when it comes to disaster, people are all too quick to point the finger at GOD and blame Him for all the mess around them. They accuse Him for suffering and pain, label Him as the reason for the state of the world … which then allows them to blame Him for the mundane … the traffic, bad customer service and overdraft. They are happy to pass the chaos over to Him. I guess I am a bit like this too. When I have been through tough things, prayed about them and not seen GOD wave a magic wand over them it has been easy to resent Him for not doing as I demanded.
But the truth is; He is GOD. He doesn’t need to give me an account of His action or even His apparent inaction. When I come to this conclusion and stop holding bitterness towards Him I get to see Him standing behind me. He is solid and firm, powerful and strong, he is completely wise. And then I see that He stretches out his hands and holds back what could have been. He holds back the torrent of disaster, the damage that could have been done, the ‘good things’ that would have damaged me, the consequences that would have harmed the ones around me. It is a reminder, that in great and horrendous times, we do not know what GOD is blessing us with or holding back with His right hand. We may feel overrun by the world, but in reality, GOD is holding back far more than we know. The Almighty cares about us.
It is only in relationship with Him that I am able to see the blessings in the good and the bad circumstances. I may not see what He holds back, but I can trust that He knows what I can cope with. He knew Job and He knew what Job would become through this awful experience.
When I see GOD’s hand holding stuff back I have a tendency to wonder what it is I’m missing out on. This kind of thinking is not in line with knowing that I am His child and that He gives me good things. I don’t have to snatch at what He has said ‘No!’ or ‘Not yet …’ to. When I look on the blurriness and seemingly vast array of the things that He could be holding back I need to remind myself that He only has love for me. He holds back so that my land won’t be devastated.
If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. Job 12:15
I don’t want ruin. I would prefer drought with the promise of rain than a flood that destroys any future. Perhaps it is time to allow Him to take hold of your hand and help you.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, do not fear;
I will help you. Isaiah 41:13