During a trip to California a few years ago, my dad made a remark about the ex-husband of one his neighbors. Now they live in a very nice, gated condo community with each building consisting of 2 vertical condo units. Apparently, the ex-husband of the downstairs condo unit owner maintains active involvement in his ex-wife’s life. So my dad vocalized his observation about how although the ex-husband lives just a few houses down, he always drives to the ex-wife’s house. My dad was insistent that he figured out the reason, “Jim”, who is retired obviously needed to feel like he was going somewhere and making the 200 yard trek via vehicle satisfies this need. It was not until he expressed this epiphany to my step-mom, that we learned the real reason. “Jim” has emphysema from years of heavy smoking, and gets too winded to walk even the short distance. My dad thought he had the guy figured out.
I see a very similar scenario in the book of Job. Job is stricken with utter loss, devastation and sickness and is utterly miserable. His friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar think they have it figured all out. God must not be pleased with Job, Job must have some sin in his life, God must be trying to teach Job a lesson, there is something Job must do before God removes the hand of judgment upon Job. They offer words of comfort, admonishment and wisdom according to their assessment of the situation. Of course, what they have failed to recognize is that God has his own purpose for Job’s suffering, that is significantly removed from the friends’ assessment they are so convinced must be the reason for Job’s malaise. They were wrong.
The devil got in God’s face about his favor and protection towards the righteous, that he insisted if God would remove his hedge of protection, then surely righteousness would fail. But God obviously was so confident in Job and his faithfulness, that Job received the honor of proving the devil wrong. God insisted that Job would not fail Him. He was right.
It seems to me, that we too can become like Job’s friends and think we have figured out what God is doing in someone’s life, particularly as they go through fire, through storms, through droughts, through valleys. We too can easily apply our prescription for remedies according to our diagnosis that we fail to recognize, that maybe we don’t know all there is to know about what God is doing in a person’s life. In fact, I feel it safe to say that for the most part, we know too much when in reality we probably know nothing but our own presumptions that have no meaningful basis in God’s reality. Nor do we know all there is to know of that person’s inner workings, history, life experiences, etc. In all of this, God uniquely handcrafts shaping and molding for each of his children, as he renders training to push us towards maturity, to loosen our grip on temporal security, to increase our dependence upon him and to form Christ in us. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made, uniquely designed and gifted, with specific buttons that when pushed can make the whole spiritual package unravel. God know us better than we know ourselves and know exactly what tailor-made training program to implement to accomplish His purpose. Perhaps, as in the case of Job, he is wishing to brag on His childrens’ dependence upon Him in the face of our accuser.
I don’t know why He seems to favor some over others, why some seem to get dump-loaded with negative circumstances while others are barely scratched. I don’t know why some are blissfully mated while others suffer loss, abuse or marital conflict at no fault of their own. I don’t know why some cannot have children while others are so fertile they could probably make a profit from their hormones. I don’t know why tragedies occur with some children and not others. I don’t know why that neighbor or that friend or that church leader is going through what they are. To say that I do know, would quite possibly put me in the position of playing God and understanding fully His ways, which Isaiah 55:10 reminds us are so much higher than our own. We cannot even begin to fathom them fully. If we do, we are presuming and we are most likely wrong.
So the next time, you think you have figured out what God is doing in the life a person. Think again, you just might know too much.