One of my favorite stories in the Bible, is the acount of Job. It is a story that in my very late teens to early 20’s, I remember gripping me and getting a hold of me in a way that I desperately needed. The story of Job taught me how to be mad at God and showed me that not only is it okay, but I think at times it is painfully necessary.
For those of you that don’t know, here is a brief summary of Job (but do feel free to read it all yourself, in your Bible, in the book of….you guessed it, JOB ;0)!):
Job was a Godly man, a good man, one of the best. Infact the Book of Job starts off with a very concise yet informative introduction to Job.
“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”
Basically this guy was someone who loved God, served Him and God had blessed him greatfly for it.
So what happends is this: Satan is wandering around doing his thing and he comes up to God and starts chatting. God asks Satan if he has noticed His servant Job and how faithful he is to Him. The Devil looks at God and basically says “Yeah, he’s great and all but why wouldn’t he be?? Look at ALL he has! Look at what you have given him!! I bet, if he didn’t have all that, if his life sucked, he would no longer praise you. How ’bout you let me have a go at him??” And God tells Satan “Sure, do your worst, but you are not allowed to kill him or touch his body!”
So Satan goes off and basically destroys Job’s life. His home and lands are invaded from all sides, all livestock stolen and nearly all his servants killed. Then all his children are killed when a house they are having dinner in collapses. ALL this and Job still says “The Lord hath giveth and the Lord taketh away.”
So then Satan heads back to God and again God has great things to say about Job to Satan, He says “Look at my servant Job, he has all this awful stuff happen to him and he still praises me and does not speak against me.” Satan then tells God that if Job’s own body was afflicted, surely he would curse God. God then tells Satan he may attack Job’s body but must not kill him.
Job is then afflicted with horrible sores, the Bible says “from the top of his head to the soles of his feet”. He is in agony and at this point his wife says to him “What good is your integrity now?? Curse God and die!” (What an example of unconditional love and spousal devotion huh ;0)??).
Now Job is physically on his last leg, he is sitting on the ground and scraping his sores away, trying to find relief. He is then approached by 3 friends, who procede (for about 30+ chapters) to accuse him, question him and insist that he must have done something wrong to bring this upon himself. Job relentlessly argues back and defends himself. He insists he is blameless and says he would like to talk to God Himself and ask Him to list his offences and tell him why he has been made to suffer so greatly.
At last Job calls out to God directly. He is in agony. He is probably hurting in a way not many people have never had to deal with, or ever will. And his anger shifts from his friends to God. Job is angry and you can’t read the account of Job and not feel the rage and the despair. At one point Job says:
20 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
23 I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.
24 “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
when he cries for help in his distress.
25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.
27 The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.
28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.
30 My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.
31 My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my pipe to the sound of wailing.
(Job 30: 20-31)
It is because of passages like this that I have come to love the book of Job. I love it, because I think it is one of the most honest exchanges between God and man ever recorded. Job wasn’t trying to impress God, He wasn’t trying to “kinda” let Him know that he was upset with Him, while hedging it with some false bravado of respect, while underneath seething and despairing. No, Job literally unleashes on God (and his very unhelpful “church friends”). And at different times in my life, I have found great comfort and wisdom in the life of Job….
Last week I decided it was time to tell Maddie about our dear friend Julie and most likely (w/out a miracle) that Julie will be going home to Jesus soon. Maddie is good friend’s with Julie’s little girl and they have gone through Sunday school together since they were tiny. We have been praying for Julie and her family, ever since she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer about 2 1/2 years ago (if that). So Maddie has been aware of Julie’s illness and has often asked if Julie will be sick forever, etc. We heard some other friends from church had told their little girl this week what was happening and since we are getting so close to the end, we knew we needed to talk with her about it too.
We were in the car and because Maddie has strong emotions about everything, I thought the car would help make the conversation easier, less intense. I told her and Maddie asked “Do you mean Julie is going to die?” I told her that yes, that is what I meant and then Maddie said “Why is Jesus so mean?? Why won’t He make her better??” Those two questions lead to a big discussion and we are still talking about it. She is not quite 7 and this is a big deal so I know we will continue to talk her through this time and it will be a process. But her questions and her attitude really struck me. My 6 year old, who knows God is loving and forgiving and sent His son for us, was mad at Him. Her attitude and words as we continued to talk, screamed anger….and even mistrust.
I realized this was turning into a bigger discussion than even I had planned, so I started telling her things I didn’t think I would have to for years. I told her that it was okay to be angry and let God know that she was angry. I confessed that I was angry too! I told her how the night before, I had cried to her daddy about Julie and told him that I was indeed angry at God about what was happening. And as I talked to my daughter, I realized how many adults I have come across, that don’t seem to think, believe or understand that God can handle our/their anger. They try to pray without showing their deepest emotions (as if God doesn’t know them anyway) and those that don’t know God and struggle with big hurts in life, think they can’t come to God UNTIL they have dealt with their anger and rage before approaching the throne….before being good enough for the cross.
But it’s not true….it’s not. Job shows us it’s not. Becase Job got angry and demanded God answer him, God responded. God met him in his anger and answered him clearly. (See from Job 38 for God’s response) God reminds Job of His power, His sovereignty, His love, that is unmatched by any other. Often I believe we can only see God’s love and power and omnipotence when we demand a reminder, when we beg for answers and when we rage until He speaks. We need to embrace that when we are angry, not only can God take it but He will embrace us in the midst of it. He wants our honesty, He wants our vulnerability, He wants to be able to address us from a point of truth. And if we are not true about how we are feeling or what we are thinking, if we can not scream out to God in rage about injustice, loss, pure unfair crap that happens to us in this world that will never be perfect, then how can we expect for Him to answer us clearly?? How can we fully understand His response, if we do not leave it ALL with Him??
Right now I AM angry. I am so angry and broken for my friend Julie, her husband, their beautiful children and her extended family. I am angry that a mother who loves her children dearly and has been an awesome mom is having her life cut short while women who abuse their sweet babies on a daily basis, go on living. I am angry that Julie’s little girl is starting school next week and she doesnt’ know if her mommy will be there to take her. I am angry that yesterday, at the store I saw a black dress on sale and thought “Maddie could wear this to Julie’s funeral”, because no 6 year old should have to go to her friend’s mom’s funeral. I am angry and my little girl is angry and I have told her it’s okay. I will continue to tell her it’s okay, I will encouarge her to bring her anger to the cross, to cry out to God and demand He answer her….I will demand He answer me….and I know I serve a God who loves through the anger and WILL answer me….and I will wait for it.