By Larry Bubb
Read Why?: Part 1 – God is the Ultimate Chess Master
The 1st couple chapters of the book of Job are a graphic example of the horrible things that can happen to someone. It would seem bad enough for those things to happen to the average human, but they happened to a “good” man who served God with all his heart. Sometimes we expect preferential treatment because we are God’s children but the Bible tells us that it rains on the good and the bad (Matthew 5:45). Behind the scenes we find out that God was demonstrating to the devil that Job did not just follow God because He had blessed him or done good things for him. C.S. Lewis once wrote that when the storms of life hit us, that is when we truly find out if our “house” is built on a deck of playing cards or the solid unshakable faith of God. Lewis didn’t exactly say it like that, but you get the idea – read his book The Problem of Pain. Job did not curse God like some suggested he do but rather said, “I came into this world with nothing, I’ll leave it with nothing ….. blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21). He also realized all the trials would make him stronger and in the end he would come out like purified gold (Job 23:10). That’s why James 1: 2-4 says we should rejoice in those trials. In the end, Job not only came out stronger spiritually but God blessed him greater physically as well. To me, the interesting part of the whole book is that it never says that Job realized what was going on behind the scenes with the heavenly confrontation between God and the devil. He asked God why, but God’s only reply were questions like, “Where were you when I formed the oceans and created the mountains and the stars? Do you think you know better than me?” (Job 37-41) Though Job never knew “Why?” he still followed God!
Of course, the ultimate example of cruel things happening to a good person is the way Jesus was treated on earth …and the way we still treat Him at times. God could have destroyed those crucifying and torturing His only Son, yet He knew a much greater good would come out of it if He did not interfere. Jesus felt deserted on the cross as He quoted from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why…” (emphasis mine) yet in the end He was not abandoned, as I’m sure He knew the end to that Psalm as well.
We sometimes forget that there is a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. Hebrews 2:14 was a comforting verse to me after my father died, much too early, many years ago. The Bible says that death is an enemy, not good, and Jesus came to earth to destroy the one who holds the power of death, which is the devil. I realized it was not accurate to blame God or shake my fist at Him and ask, “why?” The devil is the one using death to try and destroy faith in God, relationships with other people, etc. God was not reaching down and killing my Dad to teach me some lesson but he was there hurting with me amidst the pain.
I don’t know all the whys. Sometimes pain and trials may be God’s megaphone to get our attention, as C.S. Lewis said. Sometimes the adversary is trying to shake our faith in God. And sometimes when our car won’t start at that very important time, it may not have anything to do with God or the devil. Maybe the battery is dead! I do know it is a lot easier to write intellectual answers to the why questions when you’re not going through it than to stay strong and endure in the midst of the tough times. We often know the right things in our head but it is tougher to actually live it out day to day. I think that the more we read about the trials of God’s people in the Bible and in other Christian books, and read of their faith in the midst of those tough times, the stronger we will be in our faith.
And sometimes we just need to fasten our seatbelts, grit our teeth and pray for God’s grace to hold onto us during those dark times when we can’t see any light at the end of our tunnel.
I hope and pray that this has been some help and encouragement and maybe even a little enlightenment on such a complex and deep issue.
Stay tuned for part three of this article when we’ll discuss the Eschatology of the book of Esther!
Larry is a homiletical humorist/musician who has traveled full-time for over 20 years sharing God’s awesome love. He formed the non-profit corporation Larry Bubb Ministries to help let this hurting world know there is hope in Jesus. You can find out more about this ministry & his most recent album of 18 songs called “The Best of Larry Bubb…Plus 17 Bonus Tracks” at his website.