21–27 October 2018.
We know the way the world is supposed to work. People who do bad things are supposed to be punished, and people who do good should be rewarded. But sadly things don’t always work out that way. Too often the evil and corruption in this world makes it so that good people aren’t rewarded; instead they get pushed down and attacked. But when that happens we like to believe that at least God sees this injustice and that he steps in to make things right. We like to believe that even when the rest of the world is unjust, at least God steps in to defend the good and to look after the weak and helpless.
That may be the way we hope things go. But Job in his innocent suffering starts to doubt whether God is really doing this at all. Job watches as all the stupid, unfair, and mean nobodies of the world come and laugh at him in his suffering, abusing him and kicking him while he’s down (vv. 1–10). Where is God while this is happening? Isn’t God supposed to be on Job’s side defending him against such terrible people? After all, if God isn’t here to stand up for justice, to defend what is right and to protect the good and innocent, then who is going to hold back the flood of evil and stupidity that will wash over this world? But when Job in his suffering searches for God his defender, it looks like God is on the wrong side – standing with the abusers rather than protecting the weak and abused (vv. 11–12, 18–23)!
How can God do this? How can God abandon his responsibility to defend justice and protect the weak? How can God himself join with those terrible people attacking and making fun of the good and the downtrodden? That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
In one sense Job’s worries are right. Ultimately it has to be God’s job to really protect the weak and the righteous people of the world. This world is too full of evil and injustice, and goodness needs God’s backing and support if it is going to survive. But this isn’t just God’s job alone. God also calls us to do this work too. He calls us to stand up for what is right, to defend the cause of those who are suffering and weak, and to be a friend for those who need help.
Job feels abandoned by God when he is in need, but this is a feeling that many of us have had – maybe not feeling abandoned by God but by our friends. In those times when we were in trouble we needed our friends to be there for us, to support us and stand up for us. But instead we felt abandoned and alone. That’s also not the way this world is supposed to be. In the end it’s not only God’s job to stand up for goodness, justice and love. As friends, and as followers of God, this is our job too.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis