Friday, February 02, 2007

Oh Why Do the Good Die Young?

That's the lament in Job 21. Job was a very, very wealthy rancher. Large family, good kids, doting wife, widely respected, unusually prosperous. And he was one of the good guys. So why has it all been so violently ripped away from him, why has it all be replaced with disease, death, despair and desolation? Was it some unaccounted for wickedness? Is God trying to teach him an obscure lesson? Does randomness and undiscernable fate rule the universe?

Job yearns to know:
"Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?
They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes.
Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them.
They spend their years in prosperity and go downto the grave in peace.
Yet they say to God, 'Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.
Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him."

And here is Job's sober observation:
"But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked."

I think this is one of the hard conclusions Job has figured out. He knew his wickedness did not preciptate this disaster. He had not wronged anybody, he had not made foolish decisions, he had not been unwise in his dealings with people or his ranch. Yet God had taken away his prosperity. Job figured: God gives, God takes away...shall I curse his name or bless it? If I curse it, I have not chance of being made prosperous again. If I bless least the door stays open. He's a righteous man, so the primary goal is not how to get wealthy again, but how to be an conduit of blessing again to his family, his friends, his neighbors, his world.

But what about those that are prosperous and have no interest in God? And not enough interest in doing what is right by all the people they used to gain, protect, and accumulate their wealth? What do they do when they, if they ever do, lose their power and prosperity? Why is that so many with power and prosperity do so little to to increase the power and prosperity of the people "under" them? And why is it that those that try to be just and merciful with their power and prosperity get taken out of the game so soon?

Maybe we need more people like Job who yearn for justice to prevail for the powerless and impoverished.

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