Why do bad things happen
When bad things happen to good people
There are names that stand for the fate of life. “Job” is one of them. Anyone who has heard the story in the Old Testament will forever associate the name “Job” with suffering and disappointment.
Everything is going really well in this man's life at first: Job is healthy, wealthy, has many children and is universally recognized as a righteous and God-fearing man. But then, one day, fate strikes, rock-solid. His property is stolen, his servants slain, his children fall victim to a natural disaster and he himself becomes sick and terribly disfigured.
First of all, Job grits his teeth and holds on to his faith. But as time goes on he is seething inside and he is desperately looking for an explanation for his disappointment. God why do bad things happen to good people like me?
Even with all the sympathy, Job's best friends cannot help him. “Bad things don't happen to really good people,” they say eventually. "And since God does not make mistakes, you must be to blame for your own situation".
Job can no longer and he hurls all his disappointment at God: “I scream to you, but you do not answer me… I waited for the good, and the bad came; I was hoping for light, and darkness came! "
In the end, Job is left with no explanation and all alone with his disappointment. Only one thing is left - God.
And he speaks to Job, out of a storm. Long. “What do you think you are, actually?” That is how one could summarize what Job is hearing from God. Literally: "Whoever thinks they know everything better, should he argue with the Almighty?"
I believe Job did not expect God not to comfort him or explain himself but to make him feel his greatness and glory. But somehow that is exactly what helps Job, and he can see and acknowledge that God owes him no explanation for the disappointment in his life.
And then Job says the crucial, groundbreaking, most beautiful sentence in the whole book. A sentence that shows that Job's desperate and honest encounter with God changed everything:
Lord, I only heard from you by hearsay; but now my eye has seen you
Job recognizes and confesses: I have thought and believed so much about God in my life. My belief used to be like a rumor, without any inner certainty of my own. But only now - in my disappointment - have I really met God. Personally. Existential. Very close.
And this encounter becomes a new beginning for Job: He becomes well again, comes to new prosperity, and more children are given to him. Job didn't need this happy ending to leave his disappointment behind. The decisive thing was the encounter with God, the God who shows himself, who changed everything for him.
In all honesty, I also can't explain why bad things happen to good people. And I do not wish for the suffering and disappointment of Job either.
But this honest, genuine encounter with God - I want that too.
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