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One Man's Anger

I don’t know of anyone who would say that God has broken his own rules. But neither do I know anyone who hasn’t had issues with God. As a number of us have already acknowledged, when we talk about our struggle to “forgive God” we don’t really mean we think God has sinned against us. What we mean is that God has allowed pain and loss into our lives that has frightened, confused, and disillusioned us. Sometimes we can even acknowledge our anger with God.

A number of you have helped all of us by weighing in on this subject. I deeply appreciate your honesty and attempts to put such an emotional issue in perspective. And as I continued to think about how difficult the issue is, I decided that I didn’t want to move too quickly past the Old Testament story of Job that I referred to in my last post. So once again, here’s the way I read a story that, I believe, is designed to push us toward God rather than away from him–in the middle of the kind of pain we are talking about:

What was the backstory? Job’s problems began with a mysterious meeting in heaven that he didn’t know about. In this meeting, God calls the angels into his presence and Satan shows up in the crowd.

When God asks the Devil what he has been doing, Satan says he has been walking back and forth in the earth. The implication seems to be that the enemy of God has been observing the rebellion that he, himself, helped to start.

God asks Satan if he has considered Job who, according to the King of heaven, is an exception to those who have turned against him. (1:8)

The Devil has noticed Job. But he has his own take on what is happening. Job, according to “the accuser,” is no fool. He’s the pride of heaven only because he’s on the take. He remains faithful because God has built fences of protection around his family, his health, and a business to brag about.

In response to the accusation, God allows the Devil to test Job’s motives with a series of personal losses. Within days, Job loses his children, his business, and his reputation in the community.

Job’s first responses show his deep trust in God. He says things like “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.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22).

Job, however, has his limits. Grief is one thing. What pushes him over the edge is when his friends raise questions about his integrity.

What are his friends thinking? Three of Job’s friends think they know why he is suffering. They are convinced that “you reap what you sow” in life, and back one another up in arguing for a direct correlation between Job’s losses and some secret, moral failure he is refusing to admit (Job 4:7-8). Over and over they press the same logic. God doesn’t make mistakes. When we suffer, we are getting a return on the bad seed we have planted.

Job is furious with his friends accusations. And when they continue to gang up on him, while the heavens remain silent, he begins to lash out at the sky claiming that God himself has wronged him.

That’s the anger and the argument that I referred to in my last post. But let’s take Job’s story to the end.

What was God’s surprise ending? Only when God finally speaks out of a whirlwind does the argument between Job and his friends come to an end. Now it’s God’s turn to talk. And talk God does.

What’s so interesting about heaven’s response, though, is that God doesn’t tell Job why he let him suffer. Neither does he blame Satan for what happened. The Lord of heaven doesn’t even thank the three friends for trying to defend the honor of the Almighty.

Instead, in a surprise move, God begins to ask a series of questions like, “Where were you when I created the world? Can you understand how I did it? Can you do what I’ve done?” Then God talks about the weather, the ever-changing wind, and clouds that gather waters and then release them on command. With closing arguments that seem to come from nowhere, and then from everywhere, the great Judge of the universe presents a compelling series of physical exhibits.

The implication is clear: “If I am powerful and wise enough to create Orion in the night sky, a wild ox, and an ostrich, can you trust me in the trouble I have allowed into your life?”

Job’s anger is softened. The accusations of his friends is overturned. The witness of the natural world to the immeasurable wisdom and power of God is enough to bring Job to his knees and to his senses. Job admits that he has said more than he has known. Then he adds, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6)

And now as we are tested, an eagle soars overhead. A tree pushes roots deep into rich earth while lifting its branches to the sun. A wolf howls. The wind shifts. A full moon lights the night. And the story of Job waits to be remembered.

What important questions are raised by the story of Job?

1. What motivates a friend of God? This comes from Satan’s accusation that Job, was being bribed by God to be his friend.

2. Why do some people suffer more than others? This question comes from the 3 friends wrong assumption that there is a direct proportional correlation between sin and suffering.

3. Where does trouble come from and why?— If from Satan, how could a good God allow him to do it?

4. What is really happening when God seems to abandon his people? From Job’s feelings of abandonment.

5. What do we need to know to find new perspective and strength in our pain?— From the temporary silence of God, and his eventual answer.

Now, with this review of one of the most important stories of the Bible, do you find anything here that can help us in our own struggle? Does this story give any indication of how we too can come to terms with God over the terrible losses and disappointments of our life?

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10 Responses to “One Man's Anger”

  1. Gale L. Jarvis says:

    Thanks Mart i needed the encouragement.
    Even though i know God is not a respector of persons,i believe our generation has been blessed thus far more than any before us, because nearly every thing throughout the bible is so mankind can learn from others, not only their mistakes, but how obedience is the key to unlocking the windows of heaven, and recieving the abundant life God offered us when He was on earth with us.
    In my opinion obedience is not keeping the 10 comandments, and 600 and some statutes, that most of them were created by man, obedience is really the most simple of things for me to do, if i will lean on, trust in, and do as the Holy Spirit directs me each day to just Love God, and each one God puts in my life today.
    Because i am human, i fail at this at times, but having this goal in mind, and asking the Holy Spirit to help me be obedient, knowing this is God’s will for me, this becomes a Joy, instead of a chore, even when others hate me for desiring to be obedient, when i once again trust in, lean on, and ask The Holy Spirit for help. (Asking) asking the Holy Spirit for help, and recieving it has been another one of the great tools for growth that i have recieved from others, such as those that write the Daily Bread, Charles Stanley, and amny other encouragers in this generation, be encouraged by Job, and how God will always reward obedience in this life.

  2. hal.fshr says:

    I appreciate the solid development of these major themes in the book of Job. Mystery is such an important aspect of the “problem of evil”, i.e. why does an all loving and all powerful God let the righteous suffer? For me, lowering my expectations about what I am promised in this life has been helpful. Back in college my philosophy professor who mentored me indicated that Christians are promised joy and peace with tribulation (John 16:33).

  3. B Murphy says:

    The year I turned 15 years old two of my sisters had babies and my maternal instrincts were turned onto hyper overdrive. My husband and I wanted children and after 8 years of marriage we learned that we could not have them. It is a long story why we never adopted but in short the news stories of adopted children being returned to their natural parents was the end of that avenue for us. I thought at that time my broken heartedness was complete, fifteen years of shattered dreams. For two long lonely dry years I trusted in the Lord, deviod of emotion. It is so hard to put into words that silent reassurance that comes to you in those desperate hours of believing. We have the ressurection of Jesus to meditate on and hold us to our course. Job did not. So I hold tight and believe, not understanding why we are blessed with these trials. And it got worse, a lot worse when our first born nephew was killed in a car accident. My baby. But all the while God has shown himself to us to be a God of better than we ever dreamed of God. He took away our hearts desire and replaced it with him.

    This is a journey. A personal walk shared by you and the Lord alone. And these trials are to glorify God. Today Jobs suffering has gloried God once more and will continue to do so forever. It is in our suffering that we glorify our Lord if we live as Jesus did. The gift for our obedience is peace in the midst of turmoil. As good as it is going to get here on earth.

  4. dman says:

    “But neither do I know anyone who hasn’t had issues with God.” A brilliant synopsis of the tribulation of Job(a tireless account of mans’ struggles in this world).
    I used to blame God for my troubles and struggles in this world; alway’s wishing I was devout like Job and that there was a secret contest going on in Heaven. I realized, later in life, that my own misfortue was a result of bad choices, decisions,or natural events (ie.death of a loved one).
    I don’t know if we can “pray a hedge around us”, or if that would be valid anymore.
    Jesus told us in Jn.16:33, that in this world we would have tribulation; then in Jn.17:15&16, he prayed the Father to not take them out of the world, and that we were not of this world.

  5. estuardo says:

    As I remembering reading from another devotional, the author asked his readers similar questions of ‘Do you believe Jesus is capable of helping us?’, and ‘Do you believe Jesus is willing to help us?’

    One of the major problems from a sexual abuse is the ability to trust again. Self-preservation looks to others as a self-righteous, wounded pride, and can lead to that. Without proper safe guards (God-given I might add), like courage, confidence in who, and who’s we are, etc. can one be able to develop the appropiate ability to trust another, and especially trust God (Which is more of a blind trust I think, and much more difficult to accomplish)

    It’s no wonder we see others struggle for a life time of hurts, and worries because of the inability to trust, and then have it complicated with many well-intentioned people saying it’s their arrogance or pride from keeping them from growing.

    There isn’t a one of us who would volunteer to be in Job’s shoes, yet we all are, in our own ways, struggling through with similar problems. It’s just that some are blessed or lucky enough to have a support system to help them re-establish a trusting repoire with others and God.

    I guess for myself, I haven’t found that appropiate balance of Godly people to rally and support with loving compassion to help me re-build that trust needed to understand the encouraging words God gave to Job.

  6. Gale L. Jarvis says:

    Forgive me if my desire to encourage you is not what you are desiring,and or writing our words on paper can never have feelings attached, thereby i have asked the Holy Spirit to guide me with each word.
    i am thankful to Mart for this blog where others can express not only our thoughts, but concerns, and even hurts, as i believe i am hearing from you.
    As one thought i heard from, that Trusting God is like a blind trust, and i agree if it is the first time, but as the Lord has asked me to try Him, and i did many years ago, and today this is a daily part of my life, God has never failed once when i have asked according to His will.
    God’s will is found throughout the bible, finding God’s will for me has been like digging for gold, it is work, but when i have asked the Holy Spirit to help me find a promise from God i can stand on and be looking for God’s promise to become a part of my life, it is like finding the worlds largest gold mine, and then the digging began to become an exciting adventure i cannot even explain.
    Estuardo you not only can trust God, but you can trust God enough, if you will ask the Holy Spirit to help you too Lay your life before Him, and doing this you can begin trusting others, because if we really Love as God desires, Trusting must be attached.
    Forgive me if this is not for you at this time.

  7. ypwm says:

    Thank God for the lessons of Job and the unique opportunity for some insights into our Almighty God. As I have experienced difficulties in my life, one of the most important things I had to recognize is that it is not all about me. If I stay focused on our purpose, which is to bring glory to God, then I experience less difficulty in accepting God’s good and perfect Will in my life. All that happens is a part of the fulfillment of the “big picture” in God’s Will for his people. Suffering occurs through the trials and tribulations that must come. We can be assured in knowing that God does not place a heavier burden on us than we can bear. If we trust in God he will see us through and we can look forward to the glorious reward on the other side.

  8. zionscornerstone says:

    I am most content when I rest in the belief that I deserve nothing. This ofcoarse is true. As Job wrote early on,’Naked I come naked I leave.’ All our talents, possesions even loved ones are given to us for a short time and then they too will be gone. Just as the ebbing ocean wave so too are they. But thank Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that He shared them for a time.

  9. goggbeenthinking says:

    Wow, what a page. That is great delivery of the story of Job. And incredible stories and testimonies from many people. I am truly encouraged today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and from the infinite love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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