The greater trial

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I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look. You have become cruel toward me. You use your power to persecute me…If only someone would listen to me! Look I will sign my name to my defense. Let the Almighty answer me… — Job 30 – 31

“What was that all about?” “Why is God doing this to me?” “What could possibly be gained by allowing that to happen?”

These questions in one form or another are regularly a part of my conversations with people including my family and me.

Hard circumstances have a way of driving us into deep soul searching and rightly so.

Without the hard realities of life, we will never get to see what we truly believe about God and the nature of a relationship with him.

Job’s words throughout the book in the Bible that bears his name are all too familiar.

So are his friends’ words.

“Good people don’t suffer Job, bad people do,” they told him repeatedly.

He was suffering. He lost all his worldly wealth. He lost all ten of his children. He lost his health. He lost the respect of everyone in his life.

His friends told him, “You’re getting what you deserve!” Ouch! Job knew better but was haunted by the unanswered question, “Why God?! Why?!”

The “Why?” question is one we all have to deal with.

God is under no obligation to do anything and certainly answering our demands is not an exception. Job, sitting in the ash heap scratching the boils all over his body with pottery shards, came to this decision in Job 13:15: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

At the foot of the cross of Jesus where the depth of God’s love was declared for all time and eternity, we are invited to, in the midst of all the hard realities of life including the unanswered questions, “Be still and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10

Chasing the wind

But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless — like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. — Ecclesiastes 1-2

Standing on the windy shoreline of Lake Michigan, I was reminded of Solomon’s words, “like chasing the wind.”

I thought how silly it would be for someone to run around on the beach trying to grab a hold of the wind. First, this way. Then, that way.

Even the kites and the birds were tossed around without warning as they attempted not to catch the wind, but simply to ride the wild currents of air all around them.

Unpredictable. Uncontainable.

Solomon was a wise man.

He wrote much of what’s called the wisdom literature of the Bible.

His short pithy proverbs truly pack a punch to any who are willing to attend to them.

In Ecclesiastes, he lays it all out there. His primary pursuit was to discover meaning.

What was the purpose of creation including his own.

All this world beckons us to use to create purpose for ourselves left him wanting. All his wandering brought him right back to God.

Solomon’s understanding of the implications of God’s promised savior, Jesus, didn’t appear to be fully appreciated in Solomon’s reflections.

Truly, if the few years we live on this Earth is the end of the story, what’s the point?

Solomon demonstrated there isn’t any.

We’re simply living to die.

God’s full revelation of himself in Jesus points to an eternal life, either with or apart from God.

Chasing after Jesus is where true meaning is found.

Chasing after the wind is well, meaningless.

Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.

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