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“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

November, 2018

We all have a sense of when something isn’t fair. And I confess that sometimes, when I’m reading my Bible, things don’t seem very “fair.” One place where things don’t seem “fair” is the book of Job. I can’t help feeling sorry for Job. When his troubles begin, he hasn’t done anything. He’s minding his own business when God says to Satan, “Hey, get a load of my servant, Job. He’s so faithful and pious. There’s nobody like him.” (Job 1:8, paraphrased). Job then becomes part of a bet between God and Satan to see if he’ll turn away from God, an innocent bystander in his own life while they sit back and watch him suffer.

Storyteller Glynn Washington reminds us in his story, “The Secret Book of Job,” that even Job’s “happily ever after” wasn’t truly happy. In Washington’s account, Job has more children and more possessions but he still hears his wife sobbing in the night. He still misses his infant daughter, whom Washington calls “Lyla,” his favorite of all his children.

But in spite of everything, Job believed that if he could just present his case before God he would get what he deserved or at least an explanation (Job 23:1-7). In the midst of his torment, he was able to declare, “‘But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.’” (Job 19:25a New Heart English Bible). He believed his God was a God of justice and, by extension, he believed our God is a God of justice.

About a month ago, I was reading The Upper Room devotional online. A woman from Oklahoma wrote about her morning routine on a farm, opening the barn: “The geese honk impatiently for their liberty. They do not know that I am protecting them from the coyotes and bobcats, our nighttime predators. They do not understand that everything I do at the barn is for their sake. But I am faithful anyway.”

Job believed God knew what God was doing and that God was working toward ultimate good. The Bible compares us to sheep—they don’t always understand what the shepherd is doing. But everything God does is for our sake; God is faithful, even more so than the woman on the farm.

As I said in the beginning, we know what “fair” is, what “justice” means: “Fair” means I win. “Justice” means I get my way. We all have stories, about a higher grade we should have gotten, a promotion we should have received.

There are many things in life that aren’t fair. Especially, it’s not fair for an innocent man to die for my sins (1 Pet. 3:18). The truth is, if we lived by God’s “justice” we’d all be condemned. But God doesn’t give us justice we deserve. Instead, God “. . . makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45b NHEB). That means we don’t get what we want, we get what God wants.

We’re called to believe—along with Job, David, Peter, Paul and countless others—that our God is a God of justice, that God “knows what he’s doing.” We’re called to accept not only God’s justice but God’s remedy for our injustice on the cross (1 Pet. 2:21-25).

The challenge for us, if we believe our God is ultimately a God of justice, is: What are we doing about it? If we believe our God is just, then we should also believe God wants us to practice and be messengers of justice, to be people of justice. Micah 6:8b says, “What does the LORD require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NHEB). Justice, mercy, humility; three not-so-simple requirements. Psalm 145:9, attributed to David, says, “The LORD is good to all. His tender mercies are over all his works.” (NHEB). God is both just and merciful, and God expects the same from us.

“‘But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. After my skin is destroyed, then in my flesh shall I see God, Whom I, even I, shall see on my side. My eyes shall see, and not as a stranger.’” (Job 19:25-27a NHEB.)

(Based on a sermon I preached on October 14, 2018)
Copyright © 2018 by David Phelps