Tuesday, February 20, 2018
“If I were you, I would go to God and present my case to him. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles. He gives rain for the earth and water for the fields. He gives prosperity to the poor and protects those who suffer. He frustrates the plans of schemers so the work of their hands will not succeed. He traps the wise in their own cleverness so their cunning schemes are thwarted. They find it is dark in the daytime, and they grope at noon as if it were night. He rescues the poor from the cutting words of the strong, and rescues them from the clutches of the powerful. And so at last the poor have hope, and the snapping jaws of the wicked are shut. “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal. From six disasters he will rescue you; even in the seventh, he will keep you from evil.
Some of the deepest troubles in life offer many of the most useful answers about life. Elphaz, along with Bildad and Zophar were three of Job’s friends who came to sit with him and try to figure out where his wagon went off the track. All of Job’s children had been killed in a tragic building collapse. His livestock and servants had been captured by enemies, and his body was covered with boils. On top of all this, his wife had lost faith and was urging Job to just curse God and die! Job’s wagon wasn’t just off the track – it had been recalled by the manufacturer and pronounced dead on arrival. His wagon lay in charred pieces where the demons danced around a campfire.
Elphaz’s advice to Job – and all sufferers – is to go to God and confess; he urges us to consider that even though it may hurt to be corrected by God, the end result is safer with God than to go it alone, trusting in your own ability to survive. The “kicker” thrown into this scenario is that Elphaz suggests God may have been at back of Job’s troubles in the first place.
Although there is much that can be, and has been said about what God causes, and what just happens while God watches, it is important to know that Elphaz has it about as right as we can be from a human perspective. He is articulating what we know – God is God, and we are not; whatever comes our way is under his watch. Job’s friend mentions six disasters which overwhelm, yet God rescues. Then he uses the ancient Eastern idiom of adding a seventh to the mix – to the Hebrew mind seven is a perfect, or complete number – and Elphaz says God is still God over even the unthinkable.
The fourteen children and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School whose lives were senselessly ended last Wednesday are the point and pain of our prayers this day. Like Elphaz, Bildad and Zophar, as well as the victim’s families sitting like Job in the midst of their torn clothes and ashes, we weep for the lost and cry-out to God for the sense in that which is without sense.
It is somewhat easy to admit that only God knows why a disgruntled, angry young man could and would use a weapon to such viscious destruction of life. But the question that is harder to entertain or even acknowledge is…God may know…but does God care?
Like you, I have my doubts sometimes. And I am always snapped back to reality; His image is stamped on the soul of every one of those victims, as well as the shooter. Of course God cares…that is the point of faith…if He didn’t care, would the end of Lent be Good Friday?
In the middle of searching for answers and sense in the madness, we still have only one thought that makes life livable – we answer along with Job: God is God; we came into this world naked, and will leave the same way. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road; have a blessed day.