Who’s to Blame?

Job is perhaps the Bible’s premiere example of suffering.  His story provides partial revelation to the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Following his loss of income, transportation, ten children, health, and presumably his wife’s affections, Job summarizes his catastrophic situation by saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21b).  Job momentarily contributed his losses to God’s dealings in his life. 
I personally believe this was Job’s grief talking.  It was not totally accurate, but it was his truth in that moment.  In the very next verse it says, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”  In other words, it appears that Job came to a righteous resolve and grieved appropriately.  It appears he shifted the blame for his traumatic circumstances away from God. 
As I write, fires in California continue to incinerate thousands of acres and many homes have been destroyed.  Mandatory evacuations have displaced entire communities.  Meanwhile, on the East coast storms have wreaked havoc with fallen trees and broken power lines causing widespread power outages.
Throughout 2019 our beloved Texas has endured record-breaking floods.  Hundreds have been displaced because of high water.  At times, nature is a fierce contender.
The insurance industry refers to such events as “acts of God.”  However, we may need to re-think this position.  Sadly, God gets blamed for what the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) initiates.  The real blame needs to be placed on “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Little “g.”
I meet people on a regular basis who ask me, “Why did God do this?  Is He mad at me?”  It doesn’t help when obscure radio preachers say things like, “God is judging California and Texas for their many sins.”  In other words, according to their misguided teaching, God is signaling out California and Texas and making examples out of them.
NO WAY!  God, in His righteous judgment does not “pick and choose.”  God does not put sin on a continuum, or grade on a curve.  He does not say, “Ohio is better than the other two states.”  Ridiculous!  If what’s happened in California and Texas is God’s judgment, then, God is a cruel judge.  And we know that God loves all people equally.  Let’s put the blame for natural disasters, tragedies and human loss where it belongs:  The devil.  He is the arch enemy of God and hates His creation, many times using natural calamities to attack what he hates and to discourage God’s people, hopefully causing them to doubt God’s love.
Yes, God hates sin; and yes, people make decisions that go against God’s righteous plans, bringing pain and heartache into their lives.  But God comes alongside all of us during times of crisis to bring comfort and provision; and even reversing situations – like he did for Job.
My friend Paula inspires me.  She has a good handle on tragedy and where the real blame lies.  Paula has suffered the loss of her husband after 50-plus years of marriage, the deaths of two sons, and the death of a granddaughter.  Her 21-year-old son died in a car accident.  Her 50-year-old son died from complications of diabetes.  And her 18-year-old granddaughter died of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).   Three of Paula’s five sons were deaf from birth.  Yet, this woman carries no bitterness toward God.
As a child Paula was told constantly by her father, “I hate you.”  Regular beatings were given to punish her for not being a boy.  She grew up feeling unloved and unwanted.  Yet, in her father’s dying days she cared for him.  Forgiveness flowed between the two of them. 
“My loved ones are better off in a better place,” she said.  “God knows best.”  I fought back tears as Paula told her story.  She is no stranger to suffering and loss, as she too suffers from the ravages of MS.  She displays a faith-filled smile.  She affirms that earth has no pain that heaven cannot heal. 
My friend, let’s put the blame where it belongs – the enemy of our soul. His job description is clearly stated: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John10:10). 
Discouraged ones let’s not blame God when life brings us difficult days.   Instead let’s worship Him even when we don’t understand.  Worship is the antidote to hard times and overwhelming circumstances.  Like Job of Old Testament fame, let’s affirm, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth” (Job 19:25).

Finally, I love what Charles Hadden Spurgeon wrote many years ago: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”



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