Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? Job 2:10b
We teach our children to trust God. But then, when something tragic happens, or if we pray and don’t see the result we’d like, our trust turns to temper, and God is at fault.
The story you will hear was written by a college student; she was assigned the task of arguing from the unpopular side of a controversial topic. It is entitled “An Unfair and Lying God”. It is a good paper; I only take one exception…it is not really the Unpopular side, it’s the side exhibited by even Christian believers.
While lying in the labor room, anxiously awaiting the birth of our first child, I prayed for God to take away the horror and pain I was experiencing. At least six hours had passed since my prayer, and the pain had increased tremendously.
I silently prayed, Please God, take away this pain, or let me die. God did neither! He let me lay there and suffer. I wondered what I had done for Him not to come to my rescue as the healing, comforting God I’d been told about for so many years. After my daughter was finally born I asked my husband, a respected and religious person, “Why do women have to suffer tremendous pain in childbirth?” He piously answered, “Because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.” He said, “God said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children.” (Genesis 3:16).
I choked at hearing those words. I thought, to myself, Why do I have to be cursed because Eve disobeyed? She picked one apple from a tree that God had told her not to touch.
I decided God was acting like an unfair, angry child that didn’t get His way. Someone took something of His that He didn’t want touched; so, in spite he cursed mankind. I didn’t know Eve, and I wasn’t there when she picked that apple.
In Genesis 1:29 God said, “He gave us (mankind) every plant yielding seed on the surface of the earth, and every fruit-bearing tree; and it was to be our food. He lied, and punished both Adam and Eve.
I have delivered two more children since that time, and God must still be holding me responsible for Eve’s defiance.
God surely is an unfair God!
Every Sunday morning in church parents take their tiny tots to their Sunday School rooms to learn of God’s love. Many times I can hear the children singing songs of how Jesus loves the little children, and that God is love.
In the Bible Genesis 7, there is an exact account of God’s unfairness. He arbitrarily chose a family, and told them to build a large boat in which they could live. He told them how to stock it with food, and directed the choice of animals to take along. When their boat was completed they took up residence, and sealed the door. And when God was sure they were safe, He caused a great flood, drowned the world, and every living thing in it. Children, puppies, kittens, tiny birds, Grandmas and Grandpas all perished. Obviously, God sets the rules. If we don’t play by His rules, He destroys us. I ask you, is this a fair God?
There’s an interesting story told in the Bible Exodus 20, of God speaking to a man called Moses. He supposedly gave Moses and set of rules for people to live by that will cause their lives to be richer and happier. He said “Children, honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land God gives you.”
That didn’t work well for a friend who was brought up in a Christian church. She attended every class and meeting at her parent’s request, was very respectful, and loved them intensely. Karin obeyed their every command; she died the summer of our Junior year in high school. Despite her loud screams and frantic cries for help, God chose not to save her from drowning. Where was God? Why wasn’t He there to help her live those long numbered days He promised to give her for obeying her parents?
That promise was just another lie!
And speaking of lies; if the Jews are God’s chosen people Genesis 12:1-3, why were they persecuted, and put in captivity in Egypt? Why was Hitler allowed to brutally torture, and bake them in ovens like Thanksgiving turkeys?
Where was God then? Why didn’t He hold true to His promise of Genesis 12, and rescue these people? Lies, lies, lies.
A New Testament verse states, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Nonsense; any meek person I have ever met has been withdrawn, abused and walked- over.
Another verse says “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” Matthew 5:10. Most often persecution ends in death; who cares about being blessed if you’re dead? Why can’t we be blessed while we’re alive?
I’m confused. The Bible says that God said Satan is the author of confusion. But I’m confused with what God was supposed to have said. Wow! What a confusing lie!
How many times have we heard prayer requests for terminally ill people? How many times, to our knowledge, have those terminally ill people been cured?
As encouragement to pray, God said, “Ask and it shall be given to you, for everyone who asks receives. “ Matthew 7:7. I have asked God for things, and never received them. I’ve prayed for health, and remained sick. I’ve prayed for money, and remained poor. Do you suppose He forgot His promise? Liars often do, you know!
My children, who are now grown, and professing Christians, often ask me to pray with them. I agree most of the time to pray with them because I like to support their needs. I know their requests won’t be granted because too many times God has proven Himself to be an unfair liar. Just as He turned away from the nation of Israel, and allowed them to suffer, He‘ll turn away from my children. Like many other professing Christians they are waiting, standing by for God to fulfill His promises to them. But I know the truth; I know God is an unfair, lying God.
So I tell them, “Be not anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
What can you say to a person whose faith has been kicked from pillar to post, clobbered by life at every juncture, lives with pain and heartache, and has come to the cynical conclusion that God, if He really does exist, is unfair, untruthful and uncaring?
This morning we take our text from the oldest book in the scripture, Job. And with this texts there are some answers we can give to the oldest question known to man, Where is God when I hurt…And why do I have to hurt anyway?
The story of Job is perhaps familiar. We see a man of wealth, position and respect. In fact Job was the cream of the crop. And he was honest…an all-around good guy! In the space of only a chapter and a half we find Satan has gotten God to agree to let him test Job, to see if Job’s loyalty was only a matter of gratitude for all the materialistic blessings of life. The test would be to take it ALL AWAY!
So everything went; the business, the houses, even Job’s kids were wrenched form his life by an accident. The only thing Satan left him was his wife. (An early church father Chrysostom wondered in his writings why the devil left Job his wife, and answered with the suggestion that he considered her a scourge by which to plague him more acutely that by any other means.)
Just when it seemed things just couldn’t get worse, Job comes down with a good case of dermatitis. Actually, the word used has been connected with much more than what is commonly acknowledged as boils. The word suggests leprosy, Egyptian plague…which checks with the symptoms Job describes:
Breeding of worms 7:5, horrible dreams 7:14, sensation of choking 7:15, fetid breath 9:17, corrosion of the bones 30:17, blackening and falling off of the skin 30:30.
If all that isn’t enough, Mrs. Job casually suggests suicide.
Although Job’s friends have been generally referred to as his tormenters, I believe they had just the medicine he needed at first. THEY JUST SAT WITH HIM…SUFFERING! Sometimes that is all we can do. Sometimes that the BEST we can do! The world will avoid the sufferer.
We may have nothing we feel we can say to help the suffering – in fact there is precious little that will help in a lot of circumstances. But we can be there; we can suffer-alongside. That is the ministry of the Paraclete, God’s Holy Spirit, the One who is called-alongside.
Suffering is one human activity that will always produce a change. You never come out from a valley the same person; only God remains the same. As one theologian put it We are not looking at essential divinity, but at possible humanity. We are faced with what we CAN BE when we are forced to undergo an experience of suffering.
An infant honey bee is sealed in a cell in the comb with enough food to last until maturity. When the supply is gone, it’s time to get out. The struggle the young bee experiences in wriggling out of the cell rubs off the membrane that covers its wings, making it possible to fly, once free. If something happens to the wax cover that seals in the young bee, and it is not forced to struggle its way out, it will be unable to function as a worker, and the other bees will sting it to death. Struggling, suffering prepares us to participate in life.
The Psalmist (119:71) knew what suffering was for,
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes.
Suffering will indeed change us. We come into this world like a rough block of marble. In time we may become a statue of great beauty, but it does not happen without the Master’s chiseling and hammering of grief, struggle and disappointment – the whole range of sad experiences which fill life so full. These are the tools of the Great Artist!
This, perhaps more than any single thought, was what Job clung to in the darkness of his trial when he was tempted to turn,
A LOVING LOD ONLY LETS WORTHY THINGS
HAPPEN TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM
Romans 8:28 is what I cling to, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…”
The things that happen may not be so good. But according to the absolutely dependable Word of God they are bringing about something good! What is that good something God is working on? Most often it has to do with bringing me closer to God.
WHERE IS GOD WHEN I SUFFER? He is as near as my next breath, drawing me closer to him! I am prone to wander and forsake the God I love. I know that’s inconsistent, but that is who you and I ARE! We were created for fellowship with God. And when something threatens that fellowship God will move heaven, earth and anything else that keeps us apart. He tries us, tests us, and when we resist and whine and run the other way He sometimes breaks us…..BECAUSE HE LOVES US!
· Abraham was tried severely, with the life of his only son.
· Paul labored with a “thorn in the flesh”.
· Jesus, even the perfect Son of God “was made perfect through sufferings.”
Old Job would have been just another rich guy in long forgotten history had his life been a bed of roses. In every affliction God is working out good for His children.
So, angry unbeliever….wounded and discouraged saint….you ask,
ISN’T GOD UNFAIR?
AND YOU GET AN ANSWER: YES! DEFINITELY YES!
In all that God has given man his very life and breath, and that God has provided for every need, including the struggles of life to make him strong – man has turned against God!
And this God, UNFAIRLY returned love for hate, died for man, making provision for our eternal salvation.
That is certainly the most unfair transaction in all eternity!