I’d bet 3/4 of you at some time or another have said something like: ‘God has a plan for____________.’ And even if you’re never uttered that at the wrong time, you believe it. You think it’s true- that God has a plan for each of us.
Notice, both Job and his friends think its true. They believe Job’s suffering is a part of God’s larger plan. Both of them assume a world of tight causality, a world without randomness, a world where everything is the outworking of God’s will. And maybe Job et al (and you and me)- maybe we assume that because the opposite is too frightening.
Maybe it’s frightening to think that our lives are every bit as vulnerable and fragile as they can sometimes feel. Maybe it’s too frightening to think that the question ‘Why?’ has no answer. Maybe it’s too scary to admit that things can happen to us with out warning, for no reason and from which no good will ever come.
It’s understandable that we’d want there to be a plan for each of us, (as though we were characters on Lost) but the logical outcome to that way of thinking makes God a monster.
What’s scary is that at the end of the Book of Job, 38 chapters later, after Job has cursed the day he was born, cursed God, questioned God’s justice, complained about God’s absence, accused God of abuse, and indicted God for being no better than a criminal on trial- at the end of the book, when God finally shows up and speaks, Job isn’t the one God condemns.
It’s Job’s well-meaning, religious friends.
I’ve been a pastor long enough to know that in our attempts to comfort and answer and explain sometimes we push people away from God., And I’ve stood at enough gravesides and bedsides to know: that the only thing worse than suffering with no reason, no explanation, is suffering without God. And for that reason, here’s my piece of advice is always: when there’s nothing to say, say nothing.
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