This morning I finished the first month of readings in The Bible in One Year. I’m about mid-way through the book of Job and he is still battling it out with his three friends (the mysterious fourth has yet to appear). All are saying some challenging things to each other, which has me thinking.
Job challenges God with some strong accusations about the lifestyle of the wicked and God’s seeming disinterest in their accumulating so much and living so care free (Job 21). This morning, I wondered, How did Job reflect on his own wealth before his calamity? Did he ever see a disconnect between what he was saying now and what went on before? Or had he ever thought it was simply a matter of time before misfortune fell to him, a blameless person? (He did, after all, try to make sacrifices for his children, just in case (Job 1:5).) I wonder if this is why he challenged, but never cursed God.
Job gives his thoughts on the wicked as we all have done – why do so many of them seem to get away? Not all do of course, but I wonder if we (who believe ourselves to be good) often add to the wickedness by turning away or making things things worse. In the former, I think of those adverts of a couple chatting over dinner, raising their voices to ignore the horrendous sounds of an abusive relationship coming from next door. In the latter, I remember a conversation with a friend after the 9/11/2001 attacks. He detailed what our military responses needed to be. When I questioned the violence to solve this problem, he turned to me asking, ‘OK, Will, what’s the solution? You tell it to me and we will do it.’ His questions implied that non-violent solutions were naive and really offered no solutions. Only force would solve it because these people wanted to take away my freedom. Years later, there has of course been some ‘success’, but at what costs? The feelings in the middle east haven’t softened toward the west. Would God have another way to get rid tyrants if we had waited on him?
I don’t self-identify as a pacifists, but having been taught by many and being friends with many, I can’t help but have their questions rumble through my head.