When problems arise, we look for explanations to define the parameters of the trouble, as if boxing in the problem imprisons it, keeping it away from us. If we can understand the WHY, we can protect ourselves. That’s why the undefinable and unclear bothers us. So much so, that we will attack the ones needing answers as much as we. We find flaws in them and pick apart God’s actions, as if we could somehow understand His motives.
We may know, as Job pointed out and Jeremiah later confirmed, that God can protect and provide as well as permit destruction. Still, we think rising and falling is somehow contingent upon human effort: righteousness equals success and blessing; failure equals demise and loss. We ignore verses like “It rains on both the just and the unjust,” in order to assuage our curiosities and comfort our need to control.
The biggest error, however, is that we speak outside of our understanding of the situation. In Job’s case, he was the one suffering. Having been broken and thrown into the pit of sorrow and loss, having been tossed in the tumult of misery and physical pain, his questioning himself was excusable. In fact, it showed self-examination--something Job’s friends were not doing. Job was holding himself before God‘s light, but his friends had no right to do the same. They weren’t Gods emissaries, sent to be the judge and jury of Job. God was the only Judge, and He was well able to examine the evidence and make a right decision concerning Job’s outcome.
Job’s friends presumed to take God‘s position when they assumed they knew Job’s heart. In our need to contain God-decisions in our finite minds, we judge other’s motives and inner man. We might defend God, which is good, but we lift ourselves above our rights when we presume to know the levels of righteousness and the depth of flaws in another. With our small thinking, we measure the blessings others should receive, as if we could determine what they deserve or don’t deserve from God.
We speak even more foolishly when we talk from a place of blessing and address another’s place of pain. Had Job’s friends experienced similar setbacks, they would have been more equipped with compassion. Scripture says that we can comfort others with the same kind of comfort we ourselves have received. What is not stated, but is equally true, is that we are unable to comfort those when we have experienced no suffering of our own. Only when we have gone through a thing or two can we truly identify with someone else’s situation.
Like Job’s friends, we can feel the need to speak, to provide answers for the troubles of life, but we must be careful that our words do not become careless and accusatory. We must guard ourselves from presumption that causes us to make mental leaps in judgement. For, just as it happened with Job’s friends, when we begin to speak ill of our fellow man’s plight, our spiritual perspective collects error, too.
Job’s friends, who saw the greatness of God, misunderstood God. They assumed Job’s demise was God’s punishment, when in fact it was God’s reward, God’s honoring Job with His trust in him. “Have you considered my servant, Job, that there is none like him in all the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil…” God had spoken to Satan.
See, Job and his friends didn’t get the inside scoop on the heavenly conversation. We see it because Scripture reveals it. In the same way, we view our circumstances through the here and now, with limited understanding and fleshly eyes. We need, however, to always remember that there are spiritual elements at work, things we may not ever be aware of while we are on this earth. As a result, our need to understand must bow to the supremacy of God. Then, in trouble-whether others’ suffering or our own—we can focus on the comforting truth that God is sufficient for whatever the need may be.
Tip/Tidbit: Are you looking for answers? Try beholding God instead.