This week I was planning to write an article summarising everything that’s come out of the page called WhyGodAllowsSuffering on the wiki. However, when I came to think about it, I decided to try and add a different way of looking at it instead of gathering it all together just yet.
What I’m doing here is really supposed to be an encouragement to honest, especially with God, and especially about your feelings, on this site and in your everyday life.
You may have noticed I recently added a quote to the front page of the site. It’s a quote from God about Job, and it says, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” In other words, what Job said was right.
And what Job said was deeply shocking. Bear in mind as you read that God said that Job spoke of him truthfully. Also bear in mind that Job’s friends, didn’t like what he said – this might happen to you.
“The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshalled against me.” Job 6:4
“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep, that you put me under guard? When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live for ever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning.” Job 7:11-16
“He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9:32-35
“I will say to God: Do not condemn me me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?” Job 10:2-3
“Though I cry, `I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice. He has blocked my way so that I cannot pass; he has shrouded my paths in darkness. He has stripped me of my honour and removed the crown from my head. He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree. His anger burns against me; he counts me among his enemies.” Job 19:7-11
“But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” Job 23:8-9
“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.” Job 27:2-4
It sounds weird but I just love these bits of Job – the really bitter, unambivalent complaints against God – accusing him. They inspire me, energise me like no other parts of the Bible. I hope they’re good for you too…
At the end of Job God does not answer these accusations – he just tells Job that he could never understand.
This is the real God – this is Jesus – life is not simple and God never said it was. This is a God I can worship – a God who wants to hear my complaints just as much as my praise – a God who loves me how I am, not how I feel like I ought to be – a God who suffers minute by minute, second by second unimaginably much for the decision he made to create me – a God who knew all this pain would come to him when he made the decision and knew that that pain would not be limited to him, but would be shared by his beloved children – this is the reality of Christianity – it truly provides an answer, not a blindfold to the agony and ecstacy of being.
Thanks Andy! Really thought-provoking article. I love Job, too.
Especially that last paragraph.
I like it.
Went to a Catholic Mass the other day in Dublin. The Priest said that when Jesus said love your enemies he knew that our enemies would ofetn be people who suffer. As I got to thinking about that I found it was true for me. Those people I don’t like, believe to be doing wrong are people that are suffereing. What do other people think?
What kind of people do you mean? This sounds really interesting – I want to hear more.
Right, place your orders for T-shirts printed with the last paragraph 🙂
I really like this article. I heard a talk not that long ago in which the speaker was basically saying that we shouldn’t complain to God. But as Andy says, I think God wants us to be honest about our feelings, and to express our anger, if that is what we are feeling.
I’m glad you agree with me Alice. I think that speaker should be shot, in love.
I recently heard a similar sermon regarding complaining. Let me ask, how do you reconcile God’s apparent approval of Job’s honesty (and David’s in the Psalms, as well as other psalmists’) with the obvious displeasure of God regarding the Israelites’ complaining in the wilderness?
I tend to agree with everything expressed in this article, but not everyone I know would be.
In my mind, God should be our closest and dearest confidante, and we should admit to him (because he already knows) our struggles and be honest with him because he does already know and doing less than that would be dishonest. However, we’re also called to be joyful in tribulation, and some people only believe the latter.
How is this balanced?
I think we’re _encouraged_ to be joyful when we’re in trouble because we’re _encouraged_ to realise that God will look after us. I don’t see it as an order.
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