The Righteousness of God: Resting in Him
Read Job. 40:1-9
“Will you annul my Judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?”
Within the pain of his tragedy, Job was facing a crisis of faith. He had been faithful in his obedience to God, but in a cruel act of injustice (from Job’s perspective) God had turned against him. It is one thing to suffer when it is the results of our own sin and choices, but it is quite another when our suffering seems arbitrary, unjust, and without cause or reason. This is what was causing Job to struggle in his faith. Even his friends turned against him, accusing him of concealing his sin and refusing to acknowledge his guilt. For them there was an inevitable link between suffering and sin. In the minds of the three friends, the reason we suffer is because God is bringing his judgment upon our rebellion. But deep-down Job knew that was not the case. Job was not being self-righteous, becoming blind to his own weaknesses. While not seeing himself as perfect, he fully could not reconcile the severity of his suffering with the integrity of his life. As he affirms in chapter 31, he had lived his life in obedience to God’s law, striving to live in obedience and when he failed, he responded with confession and repentance.
After the extended silence from heaven in which the three friends made their accusations against Job, God finally breaks his silence and answers Job. But the answer is both surprising and unexpected. From the outside, the reader is given insight that Job and his three friends were not privy to. Namely, that Job is not suffering because of any sin, rather he is suffering because of his righteousness. Consequently, when God does speak, we expect God to give an explanation, to share with Job what we already know to be true, that Job is righteous, and God was using this struggle to reveal the true depth of Job’s character. But in a surprising turn, God does not answer Job’s questions, nor does he explain the reason why Job is suffering. Instead God points out that he alone is righteous and just. God reminds Job that we cannot contend with God or accuse God of injustice for we are inherently flawed. God does not need to explain or justify his actions for he is the creator and he is the one who determines justice. Who are we to ascribe injustice to God or override his judgment (vs 8)? Our folly is revealed when we think that God needs to justify his actions to us. We need to come to accept that God does not have to explain his actions to us. He is not answerable to us nor are not all his actions revealed to us. He is not obligated to win our approval. Instead we are to submit to him in faith.
When we experience deep pain and suffering, it is easy to begin to question God’s actions, to feel unjustly treated by God. But when we do so, we are making God corrupt. Since God is the final standard of righteousness, we can trust him to do what is right even which it is not apparent to us. God will never act contrary to the moral law that he himself has established. He will “always do right by us.” To question him is to question his very divine character. Rather than becoming ensnared with questioning God, we need to just rest in our trust in him, knowing that he has a different perspective and his action are always right. In the end all we can do is admit with Job that “I am insignificant; what can I reply to you? I lay my hand on my mouth” (vs 4). Even when we do not understand what he is doing, we have the assurance that his actions are right and without fault. This enables us to rest in our confidence in his righteousness even when we do not understand why he is allowing us to face the circumstances we confront.