Day 28

Saturday, March 20
Job 18-19

Can I share a little confession with you? Most days I like the way Bildad thinks here. Now, he may go a little overboard with the whole “bad things happen to bad people” message. After all, it’s a little morbid to think that the bad guys are going to have calamity eating their skin and death’s firstborn consuming their limbs (whatever that means!). But the main idea, that evil people will get what they deserve and good people will get likewise is an alluring one most days.

And yet, Job is wise enough (and self-aware enough) to know that he had nothing to do with “earning” the pain he was experiencing. God wasn’t punishing him for sins. God wasn’t attacking him for his evildoing. At one point, Jesus even makes this point more clear. “The sun rises on the evil and the good, and rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous alike,” he says in his Sermon on the Mount. We don’t have a God of karma, rewarding good with good and evil with evil. We have a good of grace, raining irresponsible love on all.

But Job has gone through unimaginable pain, and that can’t be ignored. It’s not punishment, but it’s pain all the same. He’s been righteous, and there’s still hurt. He’s been just, and there’s still tragedy. And Job knows it’s not the end. Job still has hope. Even after all he’s been through, he can still say, “But I know my redeemer is alive and afterward he’ll rise upon the dust.” That’s a hope not rooted in circumstance, but in something much deeper.

I recently finished reading a biography of John Lewis, the civil rights leader who passed away last year. A disciple of the nonviolent movement, John Lewis was beaten countless times. His skull was cracked more than once. The buses he traveled on were harassed and torched. And yet he remained nonviolent. Why? Partly strategy. But partly because he was not only fighting Jim Crow in the South. John Lewis was fighting for the belief that the souls of humans were good, and that the Beloved Community could be achieved where all men and women were free and equal. No beating, no police violence, no threat could dissuade him. That’s hope. That’s Job’s hope. That’s hope in spite of circumstances, and that’s a powerful thing.

Reflection by Martin Leaters

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