BY PASTOR TIM NAPPE -- HARBOR OF JOY LUTHERAN CHURCH
Over the last couple of months, our congregation has been on a journey. We have been walking together through the book of Job, and our guide has been Job himself. We have been observing his suffering and listening to his anguished cries. We have been sharing his grief over the loss of his family, possessions and health. We have been helpless witnesses to his situation.
He has been brutally honest about his questions and spiritual turmoil. Why do such terrible things happen? Why does it seem that the world is such an unfair place? And why doesn't God do something about it?
Many times, it seems that good people suffer and that just doesn't seem fair; especially, when we see evil people benefitting and seemingly able to prosper from their dishonesty.
Death, sickness, disease, calamity, pain, poverty, catastrophe and tragedy all seem to be the common experience of humanity. Where is God in all this? Why doesn't God hear our prayers, demonstrate His power and intervene in the lives of His children?
These are not just questions coming from the mouth of Job, thousands of years ago. These are relevant questions being raised by faithful people even today. They are the issues that arise in our lives when our faith intersects with our daily experience.
All we need to do is read the headlines on any given day. Our world is filled with pain and suffering. We are confronted with the realities of evil and insecurity of human existence. Sudden tragedies occur and everyday families are faced with the loss of loved ones. Many times, it is on a personal scale, occasionally it is on a broader scale.
Terrorism, natural disasters, war and unexpected accidents cause grief and bring many to the brink of despair. But they also cause us to think of the world as a dangerous, unpredictable place. I have talked to many who are afraid to travel. They have retreated to the quiet predictability of their homes and prefer to stay home rather than venture out. But even from the safety of their living rooms, they observe the turmoil of the world on the nightly news.
Not only is there pain and suffering, but there is anger and division. We hear of all the animosity between the political parties. There is division based on race and ethnicity, division between economic classes and between genders and division between those who believe black lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter or unborn lives matter.
But Job doesn't just speak to us about the problems of the world. He also shows us how to trust God and rely on his faith in the midst of the problems. He is resolved to hold onto his faith, even in the midst of the questions and turmoil. Even when faced with the loss of possessions, loved ones and his own health, he still confesses that faith is the only thing that can give him hope. It is the only sure foundation that he can rely on.
God will not abandon him. He may seem distant and unresponsive, but by faith, Job still trusts that God is there. He is going to rely on God and place his future in His hands. Without God, Job would surely have no hope. Then, he would fall totally into despair.
Listen to these words of trust, even from the midst of the storm:
"Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance." (Job 13:16) "I know that my redeemer lives!" (Job 19:25) "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21)
Job does have many questions, and he longs to have God explain things to him. But he knows that, ultimately, God is the source and foundation of his life. Without Him, all hope would be lost. With Him, life is still worth living.