Job 1:8-12 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
This is a challenging piece of scripture. Job is just strumming along, living his life, and doing so righteously. Suddenly, Satan gets the go ahead to go after him. You have to read on to see the immense levels of calamity that befall Job.
I'm not sure if in my life I've ever really felt like, "Why me, God?" as most of my trials and tribulations seem to have been created by myself. But over and over, I've seen people I know, care about, and love go through tribulations that don't appear to have anything to do with their own ungodly living or choices.
Good friends, a wonderful couple, come to mind. They are godly people and they had a wonderful son, Tyler. He was born with multiple heart defects. Aside from the bad heart, he was an intelligent, vivacious, and "normal" boy. Throughout his formative years, he had scheduled heart surgeries along with some health setbacks. Finally, when he was 17 years old, he went in for what I believe was his last scheduled surgery and all seemed fine, until it wasn't. Tyler went to be with the Lord that day, and of course the family was devastated. As much as I know losing their son hurt, they used this tragedy as a ministry tool to turn people's eyes in the direction of God. They were able to focus on the great, though short, life they were able to spend with their son.
Now, I'm not necessarily saying their situation is like Job's in that God allowed Satan to go after my friends. What strikes me is the reality that really bad things do happen to really good people. Does God still actually give Satan permission to go after the righteous? I don't know. But bad things do happen and nothing happens in this world that God doesn't allow. I don't mean cause, but allow. God made people with free will and with that free will, they choose varying levels of bad acts to inflict upon others. Regarding the myriad health issues that lead to tragedies for individuals and families, they result from the fact that we have imperfect bodies. This fact, I assume, results from imperfections that have developed since the Fall of man.
So, what does this mean for you and me, today? How do we handle or prepare for coming calamities in our own lives? I think we must let the hard times, or the fact that we know they may come, drive us to our knees. We must choose to trust that God will make a way despite our loss or pain. This will be so much easier if we are prepared. Prepare with prayer. Prepare with the Word. I know God has the ability to turn tragedy into triumph. This might mean talking about internalizing the loss of a loved one in terms of the quality of the time you had together and where they get to spend eternity. It may mean making the most of your own time with family members knowing that your own physical condition doesn't appear to give you much more time on Earth. Maybe it means committing to learn a different occupation because physically you can no longer do your job properly. I'm not trying to be fatalistic. Maybe all of us won't experience a huge tragedy. But I can't look at reality and not see that there will always be some troubles, big or small, that come to us. Bringing our focus towards God through prayer and scripture will help guide and strengthen us through whatever comes our way, big or small. If we do our part, God will do his.
Proverbs 21:31 (NIV)
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.
by Chet Gilmore
Photo: murder of the Innocents, at the Church of the Visitation, Israel.