“Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse. I am blameless; I do not know myself; I loathe my life. It is all one; therefore I say, he destroys both the blameless and the wicked. When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covers the eyes of its judges – if it is not he, who then is it?” Job 9: 20-24
I certainly don’t claim to have the book of Job figured out totally. I do recognize the spiritual, emotional and theological wrestling with God that Job (and his ‘friends’) are going through as they discuss, argue and lecture. As I read these verses, it occurs to me that Job has left out one very important option concerning the cause of calamity/disaster in our lives across history. Bad things happen to good and bad people, just as good things happen to good and bad people. We can’t cover all outcomes with a simple formula that God blesses the good and punishes the wicked, for on this earth we know that simply isn’t true. Ultimately, in the spiritual realm, that is how I think it will play out, but God will judge, not me. But, here on earth, today, in this season of the Kingdom, Free Will is a major component in how things play out. Decisions to act one way or another by someone else may affect me or someone I know. Even if those actions are not focused directly at me. My actions and decisions also affect others. While God is in control, God does not direct every action – God did not create humankind to be robots, ones who can only say yes to Him. It is because we have the option to say no that our yes to God’s offer of grace is so huge. Or as Dr. Bob Tuttle says, “If we didn’t have the choice to say no, our yes would be meaningless.” God loves the entirety of His creation, but not the evil present in the absence of love. God doesn’t mock those who suffer, God suffers with and for them. God does not give His creation over to the wicked nor cover our eyes so as to be blind to those who do evil. It is our choices as individuals that cause the calamity, the disaster, and the destruction. Job, considered by God blameless and upright (vs 1:1, 8, 2:3) is in a league different than most. Yet he suffers loss of family, property and health. Evil affected him negatively, God’s prevenient grace protects him, God’s justifying grace makes him right and God’s sanctifying grace preserves his blameless and upright nature.