Monday, March 12, 2012

when suffering doesn't make sense (what I'm reading: Mark Dever on Job)

I don't know if it's age. I don't know if it's experience. What I do know is that the Old Testament book of Job means so much more to me this time around. I read it in big gulps; the only way, I'm realising, that Job can be read.

You can't tame Job: reading it is like watching a Shakespearean play, the language flowing over you as the tragedy plays out in grand gestures. You enter the court-room of heaven, are repelled by Job's open sores, cling with him to the shreds of his faith. You're left face-down, gob-smacked by God's glory.

When I get to the end of Job, I pick up Mark Dever's The Message of the Old Testament, and he drives the point of Job's story hard into my heart:

Demanding that suffering have a reason and meaning that fits within the narrow scope of our human understanding prejudices the explanation that can be given...When we fail to recognize our limitations, it's like deciding that because our own car radio is not picking up any radio broadcasts, then there must be no radio stations sending out a broadcast anywhere. But why assume that? Is that the only possible explanation?...The book of Job teaches us that we do not possess all the facts.

At times, God does graciously allow us to see how He has used a difficult situation for our good. And surely we should thank Him for the consolation such moments of understanding afford. But there is danger in assuming that He must give us such understanding...The only one who is worthy of our trust is not ourselves; nor is it our own clever ability to figure out life's knotty questions; it is God Himself...

Your very suffering can exquisitely display the glory of God as you serve and worship him in a way that simply defies the world's comprehension and abilities. If you, Christian, are presently enduring a season of suffering, it may be that God is sitting in heaven right now and saying to the heavenly host about him, "Have you considered my servant?" and then pointing to you...

We often suffer. We sometimes understand. And by God‟s grace, we can always trust.

Mark Dever's The Message of the Old Testament, pages 474, 478-9.

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