Tag Archive: punishment


Don’t Should On Me

Day 13 Job 35-37

Elihu, Elihu, Elihu…. SO wise yet so full of “shoulds.”  Elihu is the young man who almost gets it… but falls short.  His argument seems sound, repent Job and you will find favor again with God.  Yet the problem is like the friends before him, the very ones he mocked for failing,  Elihu still assumes that God is punishing Job. Well, I guess Elihu puts an interesting spin on it and says God is Wooing Job with pain to get him to turn away from away from sin.  In Elihu’s defense, what little history exists seems to back up his theory,  Adam and Eve sin-they get kicked out of paradise.  The world is evil – God sends a flood.  Man builds a tower instead of scattering and multiplying-God destroys tower and scatters them.  So their theories hold some water… and yet they are still wrong.  Job is not being punished for any wrong doings.  He’s being used for a greater good.. to prove that Job’s love for God is such that he will never curse God.  (Lord, may I never be a righteous as Job so that you would test me in a similar manner).

    Here is what I take most issue with in regards to Elihu:  He’s “Shoulding” all over his friend. According to Elihu Job should be bowing to God in reverence over God’s power, not whining to God about pain and unjust suffering.  Job should be asking for God’s mercy not demanding explanations.  Should Should Should. 

   During mentorship training at my church my good buddy Traci, the Social Worker teaching the class, taught us this:  “Don’t should on yourselves and don’t should on others.”   All a “should” will do is create more stress and prevent less movement forward.  I think Job is in so much pain I will never be able to relate… He doesn’t need a big pile of should shoveled on top of him… he needs a friend to say, “I’m sorry, you have a right to hurt, you have a right to question, and you have a God that listens even when we feel like he doesn’t.  So it’s ok to tell it to God.  Maybe one day we’ll learn what good can come of this but for now you have a right to hurt and feel angry.”

Lord, may the words of Elihu never come out of my mouth… yet I know it has, I get the feeling that while I understand that I am not to should on others I get the feeling that I do it all the time… show me my shoulds I’ve piled up on myself and others.  help me to not should on others.

(for those grammar nuts out there please forgive me for the grave misuse of the world should.  Yes, I’m aware that in the context in which I’m using the word another s-word feels fitting as well,  I think that’s funny… do you?)

The Orthodox Paradox

Day 12 Job 32-34 

Elihu, who I’m sure is bristling about the young whippersnapper comments just made by Job, is out to prove himself wise.. and doesn’t do a half bad job at it.  Elihu is still saying Job must have done something wrong… just not being too specific in what he thinks Job did wrong other than quoting back what Job’s been saying.  So he’s a lot nicer than the other “friends” who invented crimes of Job to explain Job’s circumstances.  Elihu is right when he says God can’t be wrong..  He didn’t make a mistake in regards to Job, and it was good of Elihu to point this out because Job is getting really close to saying “I’m not wrong, God is wrong.”  However, Elihu is wrong about Job’s character… Job never claimed to be sinless, but he is righteous (meaning he does the right thing). He hasn’t done anything Big to deserve punishment of such a magnitude… Would it be so bad to take Elihu’s advice and say to God, “Obviously I’m guilty of something big, whatever it is I will stop, but God can you show me what I’m being punished for?”  You know Job hasn’t really been all that humble…  BUT, again we’re still stuck in this Orthodox way of thinking… that when we are in pain (emotional, physical, circumstantial) that it is God punishing us.  That’s not what happened to Job.. so what’s really going on and what is the deeper lesson to all this?

Was Job 33: 23-30 a Jesus sighting?!

Day 11 Job 29-31

 I think Job in part subscribes to the equation: God punishes the evil, except in his case he knows the math isn’t adding up… He thinks that he’s being punished by God and thus trying to figure out what he did so wrong but coming up blank. I especially appreciate when he start complaining about the young people… Ah the youth, never living up to the elderly’s expectations. It would appear the youth have been leading the world to hell in a hand basket since almost the dawn of time.

Does Repentance = Healing?

Day 9 Job 21-23

Job initially makes a good point.. thus far his friends stand by the belief that evil people get punished by God, therefore people who are sick like Job must have been evil.  But Job points out that not all evil people suffer, some die quite comfortably, placed in fancy graves and honored for things they didn’t do.  It’s certainly our human desire that the evil get what they have coming to them, that they die a horrible death… but that doesn’t always happen it just doesn’t.

After Eliphaz is done taking his pot-shots at Job,  I totally disagree when he says “[God] roams the heavens wrapped in clouds how can He see us?”  But then suddenly  he starts to sound really familiar… it’s essentially repent and you will be healed.  I am suddenly reminded of a T V evangelist.  Job 21-30 gave me chills… and I’m trying to sort out why.  It’s like it’s half right, “right-ish”  and I want this guy to be just plain WRONG… This story though is making a good point.  First off Eliphaz is wrong about Job and God… God knows Job, loves Job and cares about Job.  Job isn’t being punished for any of his wrong doings so telling Job to “come to terms with God… and let God clean out the evil” isn’t going to work.  Even though what Eliphaz is saying seems to make sense and one could even argue you see a smidgen of care involved in the words, Eliphaz is wrong.  Life is not that simple.  God’s love is simple, salvation is simple, but life circumstances isn’t.  An Evil man dying of cancer who repents before God during his last moments on earth will likely still die a painful death, but will live with God in eternity.  I dare say Eliphaz wouldn’t like THAT reality.  Not many of us do, but I stand in awe of it… the depth of love that comes from our God. 

     Repent and you may be healed, but you get even better, an eternal life serving The Lord.  Everyone dies, a lot of us suffer during our lifetime.  There are times God allows pain and times God takes it away.  I do not pretend to understand the why to it.  I do know this, God asks us live life with what we have to the fullest. In order to do that we have to seek him as Job does, to the North, South, East, West. We come to Him, and He will take us seriously.  Sometimes God heals, Sometimes he doesn’t.  In either case we can still honor Him and trust Him.  He knows the bigger picture.

Sick? You Must Have Been Bad.

Day 8 Job 17-20

It’s an interesting formula Job’s friends are trying to put together… If you are evil you are going to be punished, your life is not going to end well.. Therefore if your life is not turning out so well you must have been evil.  Praise God our judicial system doesn’t function this way! “Oh you have cancer?  Then we should probably slap on a five year jail sentence too ’cause you must have done something real bad for God to give you the cancer..”    Er.. that doesn’t sound right to me.

     Did anyone else jump out of their seat when they read Job 19: 25-27?!  Jesus sighting, salvation sighting!!

Asking why is the wrong question

Day 4 Job 1-5

So basically according to Job’s friend Job’s pain and anguish must be a punishment from God for something Job did.  I believe in natural consequences of our actions, but I do NOT believe God punishes us like this!  Yes bad things happen, horrible things happen but it’s not our Creator punishing us for our sin (even if Pat Robertson wants to say otherwise).  God can allow bad things to happen, but for a greater good we can not comprehend when we are experiencing them.  here is the sad part, I’ve totally heard other Christians giving advice like Job’s first friend… “Oh you just found out you have Crohns?  it must be your sin  that caused it, you should repent.”  What?!  No… lesson of the day for me?  Don’t give advice like Job’s friend number one, you’re wrong..

Lord this passage really got me riled up, Job’s friend’s advice was so wrong but i see it here and now… it’s like Westboro Babtist Church who picket the funerals of service members claiming soldiers died because of homosexuality… I’m furious about that!  You allow horrible things to happen on this earth to the bad and to good alike. I believe in repentance but I don’t think the meaning of life is trying to determine what we’re being punished for, I think we need to seek you in any circumstance, and try and figure out what good we can make of it. 

  Lord I feel very blessed, which makes me uneasy about the story of Job… help me to let go of that which really isn’t mine to begin with.  Keep me under your wing no matter what life hands me.  Like those I met in Uganda, though they had next to nothing, know much more pain and suffering than I, they trusted You, loved You and worshiped You like nothing I’d ever seen before.  May THEY be my teacher,  May THEY be the example I seek. May I always seek you through all of life’s experiences.  If there is no answer to the question “why” then lead me from it, guide me instead to the question, “what am I going to do with what I’ve got that glorifies my Creator?”