In the movie The Sound Of Music, Maria Von Trapp (played by Julie Andrews) finally comes face to face with Captain Georg Von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer) and they realize they’re in love. Julie then breaks into song with these words:
Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth
For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good
While acknowledging her dark side, Maria Von Trapp tried to explain why something so good could happen to her.
Did Maria do something good in her past to deserve something good in the present? Is there a correlation between our good deeds or evil deeds that come back to help us or haunt us?
Please join us as we delve into this topic in our daily Bible conversation
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Job 20:1-22:30. Zophar explains the fate of the wicked to Job. Basically, he tells him that the wicked always eventually get paid back in this life for their deeds. In light of Job’s suffering, Zophar implies Job did something wicked to deserve his pain. Contemporary society (and many Christians) believe that wickedness in this life always brings some sort of payback in this life. While this is true at times, Job’s life proves that we can’t make it a formula. Sometimes people suffer for no apparent reason and sometimes the wicked get away with their wickedness in this life. Job takes the opposite view. In his suffering, he points to the wicked and comments, “They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace” (Job 21:13).
Neither view is correct.
Eliphaz then kicks Job in the gut. He continues Zophar’s argument, nailing Job for his wickedness. Since Job hasn’t done anything overtly wicked, Eliphaz nails Job for what he didn’t do. He withheld food and water from the weary and hungry and rejected the pleas of the widows and the fatherless (Job 22:7). Job’s “friends” were looking for some explanation for his suffering.
2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Second Corinthians was written later in the same year as 1st Corinthians. However, scholars believe Paul wrote four letters to the church in Corinth: the letter referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Corinthians; a severe letter (see 2 Corinthians 2:3-4); and 2 Corinthians. This last letter was written because some men had shown up who claimed to be apostles, but were really false teachers who contradicted Paul’s teaching. They questioned Paul’s authority and integrity. In order to prevent the church from imploding or straying away from the faith, Paul needed to write this letter. He defends himself not because he was being defensive, but in order to prove that his message was credible.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Eliphaz and Zophar did little to comfort Job because they insisted on finding an explanation for his pain. “You must have done something wicked or you must have failed to do something good,” they seem to tell him. Sounds like Maria Von Trapp.
This tells us that Job’s friends were uncomfortable living with mystery. Pain to them required an explanation. As a result, their accusations made Job’s suffering even more unbearable.
I mentioned two days ago that a friend of mine died suddenly last Sunday. The wife of my roommate from college died 11 years ago on Labor Day weekend (in the beginning of September) leaving behind two young sons.
Is God cruel? What did these people do to deserve it?
Really, if we suffered the true consequences of our actions, we’d all be bound to hell. No one can be good enough to deserve a pain-free life. In fact, it’s a wonder to me that we don’t experience more pain. I realize this sounds awfully negative, especially in an age where people want to believe they’re okay, but our natural default setting is pointed toward sin. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus to save us from ourselves.
So rather than offer an easy explanation for pain, I think we would do well to sit in the mystery. We may never understand it, but we can trust God’s heart.
And although we can’t explain its purpose, in today’s reading Paul offers a way to redeem it:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3–4
We may not be able to understand our pain, but God can certainly use it in our lives. Unlike Job’s “friends”, our pain allows us to feel other people’s pain and comfort them.
For this reason, our pain need not be futile. Like a friend of mine once said, “God doesn’t waste pain.”
And he doesn’t waste yours.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Describe a time in your life when someone behaved like Job’s friends and tried to explain the purpose behind your pain. How did that feel? How did you respond?
- When has someone comforted you in your pain? How did that affect you?
- When have you comforted someone in their pain? What did it show you about God?
- Who can you comfort right now? What does that look like?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.