Friday, December 10, 2004

Tragedy is the cup of the wicked: Job 8

Next up to bat is Bildad the Shoe-height (Shuhite), and apparently he has learned nothing form Eliphaz. He starts out saying, "How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a mighty wind? " (Job 8:2). Bildad shares the same zeal for weighing and judging Job's words as Eliphaz had and, like Eliphaz, he heard Job's words but missed his heart. We've covered this attitude in several of the previous posts.

One thing that Bildad does contribute to the discussion is his analysis of why Job's sons and daughters died such a tragic death. He says, "If your sons sinned against Him, then He delivered them into the power of their transgression." (Job 8:4). Bildad's conclusion is that their deaths were due to the abundance of their sins. They were delivered into the "power of their transgressions" and suffered the tragic consequence of their sins.

Besides being an incredibly insensitive thing to say, we must ask ourselves if Bildad's conclusion is correct. Do bad things only happen to transgressors, or do they befall the righteous as well? I find that in myself, I sometimes want to believe that tragedy belongs to the wicked alone, because it provides some level of comfort to me. When I see someone else's suffering, if I can convince myself that they are suffering because of their sin, the I can pretend that such suffering will never come my way because I am not a sinner. But if we admit that tragedy can happen to the wicked and the just alike, then we must also accept that it can happen to us as well. We want to believe that we are immune to the suffering experience by others because we are better them they, but this belief is not founded in the word of God.

Jesus said, "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:4-5). What Jesus is saying is that our current circumstances do not necessarily reflect on the degree of our righteousness. Just because we are at ease does not mean we are righteous, and just because we are afflicted does not mean that we are wicked. Tragedy is in the world because the world is fallen, and it falls upon all mankind because mankind too is fallen. What marks a Christian as being different from an unbeliever is not the absence of tragedy, but rather how they can endure through the difficulty by the grace and strength that God provides.

David Robison

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