Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Faith and understanding

Job spoke, saying: Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. - Job 7:1-3

The book of Job is a book of wisdom. God allows Satan to test Job to see if he will remain faithful to God despite great misfortune. He loses his possessions and his children but remains faithful. Then he is stricken with physical ailments which are painful and repulsive, yet he remains faithful despite calls from his wife and friends to curse God and die. A couple of things come to mind when I ponder the book of Job.

First, it is interesting that God allows Satan to test Job. This tells me that God is ultimately in control of Satan. Furthermore, Satan is called the accuser and what happens to Job gives us insight into his nature. In a sense, Satan is like a prosecuting attorney in a trial where God is the judge. Situations (even situations which Satan himself has conceived) which result in us tripping up and falling have Satan accusing us before God as inferior creatures not worthy of God's mercy. So often we hear the phrase, "The devil made me do it." In reality, the devil doesn't have that kind of power over our wills. If we have done anything wrong, it is by freely chosing to do so. Satan merely uses our wrongdoing to humiliate us and spotlight our weakness. In a way, it is the nastiest of evils, exploiting our weakness for his gain and ridiculing us when we fall. This is why it is imperative that we inform our consciences well so that we will be able to make wise choices while resisting those choices which may seem good but end up being not so wise in the end.

Secondly, Job, through all of his suffering does the one thing that is only natural and human. He seeks to understand. Here is a man who is righteous, who serves God with all his heart, and yet suffers greatly. While his friends tell him that his suffering is certainly due to guilt of sin, Job maintains his innocence, and while he is certain of his innocence, he is puzzled as to why his innocence would be so rewarded. He turns to God for answers but gets nothing at first, yet rather than turning away from God, he continues to trust. God finally does answer him by revealing how impenetrable is the depth of who he is and how unfathomable are his designs. As God was silent while Job questioned, now Job is silent as God answers. Job understands that he will not always understand.

The final theme? Our faith in God must not be shaken by a lack of understanding, even if that means that we must suffer. The book of Job paves the way for the revelation of the redemptive character of suffering which is manifested through the passion of the Lord, for Jesus trusted despite great suffering and even death, and for this faith he was rewarded by being raised to eternal life.


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