Reflections from the Ash Heap
Something happens when people suffer. Questions arise. More questions than answers. And disturbing thoughts arise. In my reading of Job, I see this. Job has questions. His friends have answers, but they are not the ones suffering. And their answers do not really address the questions. Their answers ignore reality, whereas Job notices reality with the perspective of one whose reality is painful. It is as though Job's friends are out of touch. They have idealistic notions of how things are and make assumptions about God's involvement in it. Their incredulous replies to Job indicate that they are unwilling to give up their ideas about God.
Job's ideas about God are challenged. He can't understand what God is up to. He can't understand why God is silent. He is terrified of God and doesn't want to be. He sees that the way of the world is not fair. He is indignant that the powerful oppress the poor and those who wrong others live long and prosperous lives. He asks, "If it is not so, who will prove me a liar and show that there is nothing in what I say?"
And yet his friends try to do that very thing. Can they not see? Are they so sure of their answers? How often do we give easy answers to difficult questions? And what motivates us to do so? Are we afraid of the real answers, the true answers? Do we want God to be a certain way and anything that challenges that idea of God strikes us with fear or discomfort? Is it too painful to acknowledge that God does indeed allow the bad to prosper and the good to fail? Is it okay to say, "God, what are you doing? How long will you be silent? When will you act?"
Job thought so, and I agree with him.