Today, I've had a long talk with a friend, whom I guess I would describe as disappointed. It's understandable. He and his family have had a lot thrown at them the past couple of years -- in the realms of health, economics, relationships and more. And the engineer in me needed to keep being reminded to shut up, listen and not try to fix it.
My friend and I are in agreement that God is good. At least in principle. But, for him right now, it sure doesn't feel like God is treating him very well.
This is basically what the book of Job is all about. Not that I can claim that I totally understand the book of Job. Yes, I understand the bit about God's sovereignty. And it makes sense to me that God sees a bigger and more thorough picture of the situation than I do. But still, Job's situation doesn't seem fair, and it seems like God is not very fatherly in allowing Job to experience so much loss just to make a point with satan.
On the other hand...
It's a bit like Jesus on the Cross. The death of Jesus on the Cross is the only way to salvation—the only way to restore the broken relationship between you or me and Father God. If there was any other way, then the cross is just cruel and unnecessary. But the impact of the Cross is huge:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
(Colossians 2:13-15 NIV)
This act of God in the flesh laying down his life under exceptionally cruel and unfair circumstances has resulted in the total defeat of all powers and authorities. The foolishness and weakness of God has defeated satan and all of his accusations against people.
So what does that have to to with Job?
Job's three "friends" preached a message of good and evil. If you do good, you get blessings. If you don't, bad stuff happens. And then God said that they had not spoken the truth about him. So equating good and/or evil to value, favor or blessing is not the truth.
Job, on the other hand maintained his innocence, but demanded an explanation (and didn't get one). What he did get was a revelation of God's enormity. Which left Job flattened. Instead of questions, Job was awestruck. The whole good and evil paradigm was crushed out of Job, leaving instead the fragrant wine of humility and relationship with God.
Now this may not seem very consoling to my friend. At least, not right now. But good wine needs to age. It takes time to get from the crushing to the connoisseur. And a lot of that time may feel like it is spent in a dark, cold cellar.
Is it worth it? This is where trust comes in.