Last Monday morning I heard a song that struck me, and I wonder if you heard it, too. I had the radio tuned to a local station, and a song caught my attention. The announcer said it was sung by Clay Walker, and its title was, "A Few Questions".
In the first verse, the singer wondered "why"- why we can put a man on the moon but can't cure illnesses; why one man is born in a war-torn land, while another enjoys freedom; why a couple can strive to have a family and remain childless, yet in another place a child is unwanted and neglected.
In the second, his thought continues: why did his cousin die in a crash at 17- it seems unfair he never got to chase his dreams. In the final verse, he says he feels God is listening to his prayer; yet can't understand how he got an audience ahead of others, and wonders if God can see some good in him that makes him worthy to be heard.
In the refrain, sung between verses 1 and 2, and verses 2 and 3, the singer seeks to assure God he is not trying to be contentious: he admits that he wasn't around when God "filled up the oceans" and "hung the stars in the sky"- he defers to God's eternal power and wisdom - and says he doesn't want to "second guess or criticize"; he just has "a few questions".
I'm sure the title of the song was chosen because it was a brief line from the refrain, but the song may as well have been named, "I'm Busy Contemplating, Like Job". For this suggested title to make sense, we turn to the book of Job, one of the oldest books of the Bible. In it we find the Lord with the angels in his presence, and Satan, the rebellious leader of the fallen angels, also appears.
God asks Satan: "Where have you come from?", and Satan answers that he has been "going back and forth" in the world, observing people to see how he might tempt them. The Lord asks him, "Have you considered my servant Job?", and our attention- and Satan's -is drawn to this man, a believer who has been richly blessed by God. Satan took it upon himself as a challenge to drive a wedge between Job and his God by making the man suffer.
First, the Lord allowed Satan to strike what Job had- his servants, oxen, sheep, camels, and his children with theft or destruction. He responded to the disasters by clinging to his gracious Lord in faith.
Satan failed, but he wanted another chance, claiming that God was being overly protective. God then allowed him to strike Job himself, yet not to the point of death. Satan made him suffer greatly, but Job still trusted God, saying "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
The final blow came when Job's friends began to accuse Job, claiming that a secret sin he was hiding and unrepentant of was the reason for his misfortune. Job said it was untrue; and after repeated attacks, Job finally overstepped his bounds, bitterly repeating his claim of innocence, and claiming God had wronged him: "Let the Almighty answer me!"
And the Almighty does. He asks Job a series of rhetorical questions to help Job realize he was not present to observe God's creating work of his mighty acts; God did it without his counsel. Finally, Job apologized. He acknowledged that God's wisdom and ways were beyond him, and that he should let God be God. "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful to know." Then Job repented.
As a final note, the book ends with God blessing his restored Job with long life and twice what he had before.
"Busy Contemplating, Like Job". Clay Walker's song will appeal to many, for most people have asked similar questions at some time in their lives. "I work so hard, why do I struggle while lazy crooks enjoy wealth?" "Why did God take my loved one away?" "Why does God hate me?" "Why is he mean to me? He's unfair!"
It is easy for people to become bitter as they endure hardships in life; to see God's power, but not his reasoning, not his grace. So many people stay away from worship, from church, from God. They take issue with God, "have a bone to pick with him"- they feel God is unjust and so want to "call him on the carpet".
You notice, that when the time was right, God showed Job his wise, loving, yet hidden ways, and won him back. I would suggest that, for all who have taken exception to something God "did to you" or hasn't done for you, that Lent is a great time to come to an understanding with him. As we read the Gospel accounts that describe Jesus, the innocent Son of God and Son of Man: how he allowed himself to be taken, tortured, unjustly accused, and executed, we see God's love in action. In his hidden wisdom, God knew we needed a Savior to deliver us from sin, death, and hell. And he provided for us just what we needed, when we were not looking for him and didn't want him.
To see Jesus willingly drink the cup of suffering in our place helps us to realize that what God does, he does as a wise and gracious God. This realization can help us trust him when we cannot fathom, when we do not understand what happens.
I pray that during this Lenten season, we are all strengthened in our faith in Jesus, and grow in our confidence that God does all things well and for our eternal good. And for any who read this that might be sitting there with a chip on their shoulder toward the Lord, I pray that the message of Lent and Easter will remove it, and enable you to enjoy the relationship Job had with his loving God.