I am afraid of all my sufferings; I know that You will not hold me innocent. -- Job 9:28
THE EVENTS in the recent past weeks drew me back to face (again!) the perennial question of evil in the world. And it drew me back to the Book of Job in the Bible to find a measure of consolation. The untimely deaths of two young men - one just nineteen and the other thirty-two, a nephew and a son of people I know in car accidents; the failed or failing marriages of Christian friends that are broken by the rocks of “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”; and, the senseless shooting and killing in a movie theater in Colorado, are hard to explain much less, understand. These events caused us to stop and think how grace and comfort could be ministered to those whose lives are drastically impacted on by the “evil in the world.” Many, including those who believe in the existence of God, are troubled by the existence of evil in the world. “If there is truly a good and loving God, then why is there evil in the world?” That is the usual line of argument of those who argue against the existence of God. The Book of Job in the Bible deals with this problem. Job was a righteous and God-fearing man. However, that did not stop God from allowing Satan to inflict him with the most horrible disasters and disease to test his loyalty. Satan wants to show God that Job's faith is false. Under intense suffering Job argues with his friends about the suffering of the innocent. Towards the end God enters the debate and responds: “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:2-4) God responds by telling Job that His wisdom and power are beyond man’s ability to understand. Also man is not in control of the universe: his virtues alone do not ensure earthly happiness. Job humbly closes the debate with the words: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You … Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6) This episode in the life of Job suggests that we should accept suffering and trust in God. Later in the Bible, Jesus Christ showed us this in the way he responded on the Cross. Our sinful world is the unavoidable result of human choice. Pain, suffering and death are integral parts of the material world due to Adam's sin, but faith in God offers hope through the suffering of Jesus Christ. Evil in this world is not a disproof of God, but a constant reminder of our need for the perfect God of the Bible.
Pastor Robert Chew