Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Okay, Life Isn't Fair

"Believe me, I'm blameless. I don't understand what's going on.  I hate my life!  Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude that God destroys the good right along with the bad.  When calamity hits and brings sudden death, he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent.  He lets the wicked take over running the world, he installs judges who can't tell right from wrong. If he's not responsible, who is?  (Job 9:17-19 Message).

Job is angry at the odds stacked against him.  His neatly ordered world is no longer safe.  In the paragraph above he is saying that he doesn’t think living for God really matters because, whether you are good or bad, it ends up the same for everyone.  In his despair he is letting God have it with both barrels.

That is the low point that many people get to when calamity, misfortune, or hardships strikes.  Maybe they won’t come right out and say it like Job did, but they think it down in the gut.  And of course, in some respects they are right!  Life is not fair.  Justice does not always prevail.

The poor and outcast seem to understand this more than the rest of us – life is not fair.  And that is their head start on the Gospel – they know the hard realities of life.  The rest of us have to learn it they hard way when our world comes crumbling down.

I’m struck by how differently the Gospel comes across when you preach it to someone with a full stomach and when you preach it to someone with an empty stomach.  That’s why Jesus said the Gospel has to be preached first to the poor and hurting (Luke 4:18-19).  They are the ones who hear it rightly.

When you preach the Gospel to full and satisfied people, they don’t understand it.  They distort it for their own ego-centered purposes, their own religious purposes, or whatever their intent may be.  They have not yet been baptized with enough pain to see it clearly.

The Gospel, in short, has to be preached to people like Job.  They are the ones who can hear it and not rearrange it for their own purposes.  All hurting people have come to realize the ultimate human paradox:  We learn by letting go; we grow by giving up.

BTW, Job climbed out of his despair.

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