Tuesday, September 06, 2005

God and Katrina

(from Ottawa, Canada)

Some time ago I wrote the following in relation to Job's suffering. It now seems relevant again as we think about Katrina and its effects upon us:

Where is God in all of this?

The disturbing thing for some of us is the realization that behind what happens here lies the hand of God. That’s the problem, isn’t it? It isn’t so much that Job suffered. We are used to that. We see examples of that every day.

No, the problem here is God!

Stating it like that is shocking, isn’t it? How can God be a “problem”? But the issue we have to face in this and the subsequent chapter of Job is how can God allow this to happen? No, it is stronger than that. It is not, as Calvin observes so often in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, a matter of God “allowing” as though God was somehow passive in all of this. God actually instigates the trial. He puts the idea in Satan’s head. It is God’s doing. That, is the problem.

Stating it that way reminds us again that the book of Job is primarily a book about God. It is the issue we shall have to return to again and again as we unfold its message. It is not so much, why do we suffer? But, why does God make us suffer? When we come full circle to the end of the Book, we shall observe that Job is given a revelation of the majesty of God rather than an answer to his many and pointed questions.

His response is to “worship” (1:20). It is always appropriate to worship. Job seems utterly submissive and servant-like. It is the epitome of trust. The beautiful words of verse 21 are stunning:

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. (1:21)

All of us who love God desire to respond to trials like this. It could be a prayer that we make each
day: “Lord, when difficulty comes, no matter what it may be, help me to say what Job said.”

These words recognize that…

this world is not our home; that God’s purpose transcends this life
everything we have comes from God
we are stewards
we must never attribute to God anything that is evil.

But wait a minute! Have we not already seen that God is the one who instigates this trial? Indeed, we have, though Job did not know that. Nevertheless, here is a mystery:

God foreordains everything that comes to pass.
Trials and sin come to pass.
But God is not the author of sin.
God does not tempt us to sin.
God does not condone sin.

“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin…”

Sometimes all we can do is state the principle; logic evades us.

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