I started reading Job this week. I’ve always loved the Book of Job, the way it speaks honestly about trouble and problems. My heart goes out to Job, who so openly confesses to his friends that their attempts at consolation are pitiful. Because of Job I never use cliches or simple phrases promising life will get better or that this is probably for the best with friends who are struggling with the loss of a child or a difficult pregnancy. Job taught me it is OK to sit with someone in pain, that I don’t need to speak to be comforting. And Job taught me that and immediate deep depression is a normal human response to a tragedy.
This time during my reading I noticed the words of Satan in a deeper way. I had always understood the challenge – if you give Job trouble he won’t love you any more. I’ve heard many sermons about the importance of problems and how they test us, make our love of God deeper. These always seemed to be supporting Satan’s position to me – that most people will fall away from God if they have trouble, only the best will be drawn closer to God.
I had never really read what Satan was saying — that Job ONLY loved God and did what was right because God had blessed him. Interesting thought isn’t it – that it is easier for someone who is wealthy and had an easy life to love and serve God. This is the opposite of what I had been taught – that money and material things make it more difficult to love God because without a NEED for God’s help you never get to know him. It reminds me of my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa, where I was challenged to see how much of what I called Christianity was defined by my life in a wealthy country rather than the Bible.
God proved that Job did not only love him because he was blessed – Job did just fine under the test of trouble. The wealthy and blessed are able to love God enough without having to meet someone else’s idea of a “struggle.” I admit I never had a very good understanding of what it was that makes some people love God, and today I think God revealed that I understand it even less than I had imagined.
Which leads me to the difficulty of parenting. One of the things I have told myself was how the struggles of a parent in the first few months teach them to trust God more – which I read as love God more. But what if this is only half right? Do I really believe the parents who are blessed with an “easy” baby are not learning to trust God more – or learning to love God more? Do I really believe the ONLY way to grow faith is experiencing trouble? If I do, then I must be wrong — Job teaches me that.
Just another reminder that God is infinitely more complex than can be summed up in three simple sermon points or a catchy phrase.
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