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Were you surprised to learn that the arguments made by Job’s friends are the same arguments Christians make today to explain why bad things happen? I found it relatively easy to pick out certain statements regarding AIDS, Hurricane Katrina, and the most recent devastation in Haiti to illustrate that point. After today’s lesson, however, someone mentioned the sermon I preached after the 9-11 tragedy. As I remember I took that opportunity to point out our national sins and issued a call to repentance. In retrospect; not my finest hour.
What a beautiful story Job would have been if instead of trying to explain and offer solutions for Job’s suffering, his friends could have gone to him–simply to be with him! They could have listened to Job as he voiced his fears and doubts without trying to “fix” his theology. They could have offered to bath his fevered body and perhaps fed him some broth to ease his hunger. They could have expressed care and concern in a number of very significant ways. Instead they did the one thing that made God angry; they tried to make sense of Job’s suffering by explaining what God was doing. They didn’t have enough information to even begin to guess. Thus, God’s judgment, “I am angry with you . . . because you have not spoken of me what is right” (Job 42:7).
My we learn and not repeat the mistakes of the past. May we do our job of loving, caring, and serving without falling into the trap of explaining and blaming. God help us.