Job 33:8-22 – “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”
I spoke to Ruth (not her real name) yesterday. She is 96 years old. She said she has lost everyone. She has outlived all her family and friends and she is alone in a world which she no longer understands and which doesn’t understand her generation.
“Why is God allowing this to happen to me?” This is the question Job asks in the midst of tragic circumstances. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose your children, your career, your health, the support of your wife, all in rapid succession. He clung to the Lord but, like Ruth, cannot make sense of his circumstances. Ever felt so entirely devastated by your circumstances that you are at a loss to understand why? I’ve been there, but certainly not to the same extent as Ruth or Job.
I spoke to Gerard (not his real name) the other day. Gerard has such a faint voice that I can barely hear Him. As Elihu looks at Job sitting in the ashes desperately trying to find relief from his pain he thinks that’s the answer. According to Elihu, we can’t say that God doesn’t speak to us. He speaks through a dream, a vision, a whisper, a warning. He says in effect that God is trying to say something, but we don’t always recognise what He is saying. Nothing wrong with this so far, except that it makes God out to be socially inept, as if He can’t adequately express what He wants to say because His voice is too soft or because He stutters or doesn’t speak our language. We don’t understand and all we can say is, “HUH?”
Elihu says God can choose whatever way He desires to speak to us, including PAIN AND SICKNESS. But does God speak to people with sickness and excruciating pain in order to get His point across? Elihu says “… God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds, with ceaseless aching in their bones. They lose their appetite for even the most delicious food. Their flesh wastes away, and their bones stick out. They are at death’s door; the angels of death wait for them.” (Job 33:19-22 NLT).
Pain, sickness, lack of appetite, weight loss, hovering on edge of death. He’s obviously referring to Job. But is this how God tries to get through to us? I’ve heard this view of God before. Harsh, cruel, vindictive, punishing, the torturer who forces His way upon people. Strange. I don’t see Him that way.
A few days ago I had the symptoms of a common cold. What prohibited God from HEALING me? Why do I get sick? Why do great men of God in the Bible like Job get sick? Is healing for today? Does healing depend on my confession of known sin? Is sickness a punishment or disciplinary action for sin and failure? Does God cause sickness or does He simply allow Satan to cause sickness or is sickness due to some other cause? These questions are all inherent in the argument of Elihu and in the book of Job so far.
For a follower of Christ, the only way to gain some perspective on these questions is to go back to the BEGINNING of the Bible. Some simple yet profound statements are made that provide keys to understanding the world we live in. God said to the original man and woman “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:16-17 NLT). They chose to DISOBEY God. When SIN entered into the world it permeated everything with DEATH. SICKNESS is a symptom of living in a world which bears the CONSEQUENCE of Adam’s original sin, death.
But God turns cursing to blessing. Ask Jane (not her real name). She spoke to me yesterday of how she was so overwhelmed by the invitation that courses through the veins of the Biblical narrative. She was completely taken by surprise by that she could experience the FORGIVENESS of God through what Jesus did on the cross for her when He paid the ultimate price, death, on her behalf. She was surprised by joy and the purpose she found when she gave her life to Christ.
Though I still wrestle with sin, and I still get sick, and I still continue to live in a sin effected world, yet I am forgiven, I can pray for healing and I can make a difference as I help others come to live the life God intended for them. I may not fully understand everything about sin and sickness or why things happen to me, but I do know that I can trust in God who has all the answers I need, and that He loves me, and I can live the life for which I was created.
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