“But that’s not fair!” a teenager protests to his parents.
“Well, life is not always fair,” they respond.
How many times have you experienced that exchange? Or said it? Either in challenging the unfairness of a situation or in the response that has become a familiar cliche’?
As we continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the unfairness of life is further amplified. People in some states have been forced to deal with very restrictive mandates. Others have not. Apparently, the virus has affected some demographic groups more than others. Some people experience mild symptoms. Others suffer from excruciating pain. Most recover. But some die. Many have lost the jobs, and have suffered financially. Ironically, the stock market has hit all-time highs and others have actually made money during the crisis.
Why? We wonder. It just seems life isn’t fair.
Our Bible reading today begins in Job 1 and introduces us to a man who had every right to question life’s fairness,
Consider these lessons from Job 1.
#1 Righteous people can suffer.
Job was a man of impeccable character. The Bible says he “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” He was a loving husband and a faithful father who prayed for his children.
This is not a claim that Job was sinless. But he was spiritually mature. A man of integrity. One who revered and respected God. And who according to the text was respected by God.
Our righteousness does not exempt us from pain, suffering, and life’s inequities, injustice, and unfairness
#2 Prosperity doesn’t protect us from pain.
Job was a rich man. He is described as one “of the greatest of all the people of the East.” Yet, his vast wealth didn’t guarantee a life of ease, free from adversity and heartache.
Incidentally, it’s worth noting, that one can be wealthy and still be righteous. Possessions can be obtained without sacrificing our integrity or corrupting our character.
#3 Blame Satan, not God, for life’s problems.
There’s a lot we don’t know about Satan, as well as the problem of suffering. But we do know that it was the Devil who stripped Job of his wealth, inflicted him with physical pain, and took the lives of his children.
There’s no indication that Job realized his adversity was the result of the Devil’s devises. But we know it. And the New Testament affirms it. The apostle Paul refers to his “thorn in the flesh’ as a “messenger of Satan.”
God is the giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17). He blesses us. And provides for us physically, materially, and spiritually. Yet, we live in a fallen world. Satan is real. And God will allow him to test us. Like job, we can choose not to sin. And not to foolishly blame God for our problems.
#4 When things go wrong, worship God.
In the face of tremendous emotional suffering, Job worshiped, prayed, and humbled himself before the Lord. Amazingly, he looked at his losses with a spiritual perspective.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Too often when people experience adversity in life, they turn from God. They quit praying. Quit reading the Bible. Even quit attending worship services. Instead, this is the very time we need God’s guidance.
As the book unfolds, we will see Job’s struggle with the “why” questions of life. Job’s struggle to understand his suffering, it still our struggle today. We endure, as he did anguish of spirit, emotional despair, and mental agony. He failed to find comfort either from his wife or his three friends. You might argue that they became a pawn of Satan to “curse God and die.” Or to wallow in misery and self-pity because of a failure to be righteous.
Fortunately, Job sought a closer communion with God and ultimately came to see God’s love, concern and wisdom even through his sorrow and pain. His quest is ours today. And may we suggest the answers won’t be found in watching Fox news. Or CNN either.
God’s book offers insight into God’s plan and purpose for humankind even as we endure sorrow and suffering. C. S. Lewis expressed it this way, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
One day suffering will cease. Problems will disappear. Pain will be eliminated. Wrongs will be righted. All tears will be wiped away. And life’s unfairness to turn into heaven’s glory.
May God hasten the day. Come, Lord Jesus.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman