Skip to main content

Suffering: Karma vs. Resurrection

Job is a typical man - a blessed man in a fruitful eastern landscape.

Behind the scenes - Satan and the Triune God. Satan is a shady figure, confined to wander the earth, living on a short leash, and with a simple satanic premise: people love God because God is good to them, but when life isn't working out they'll curse God. Clearly this is true in some cases but is it universal?

The LORD permits the test - not so much of himself, or of Job, but of Satan himself. Satan reckons Karma makes the world go round, so upset the apple cart and belief in God will fall. Job loses his family and his health but remains alive.

Job's friend gather and in a rare moment of sanity sit in silence for a week, sorrowing with him.

The Job speaks and says - it would've been better not to have lived. This is the premise of Ashton Kutcher's disturbing film The Butterfly Effect. It's an honest cry from man in the centre of a broken world. It's not a sin to think it, to say it, to face this.

Then Job's friends awake and throw everything they have at Job.

Satan: Job only loves God because his life is comfortable.
The Friends: Job is suffering because Job is bad.

The story however says:

Firstly, Job - though a member of Adam's helpless race - is innocent. Blameless. He's not suffering as payback for bad things he has done. He and his friend may not know why, but it simply isn't raining on him "because he lied when he was seventeen."

Secondly, Job loses all the blessings he enjoyed but doesn't curse God. He is pained, and bewildered, and finds his friends to be miserable comforters.

Nobody needs someone who believes in Karma at their hospital bedside. I loved it as an ambitious achieving teenager but there's no good in having a worldview that only works when life works...

Karma-shaped approaches to life feel neat, and even amusing in the little things of life, because sometimes we get ourselves in trouble... but our broader experience of life refutes this as an absolute principle: there are too many cases when bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. It's miserable comfort and a poor observation of life.

In the story Job, when all is said and done: God speaks. He asks questions that put Job, his friends and Satan in their places. There are things we don't know. There is perspective we don't have. There are limitations we'd do well to accept.

And, Job confesses to having spoken beyond himself. If we hadn't realised already: there's no place for swagger in this suffering world. Meanwhile, God counsels Job's friends - "My servant Job will pray for you."

In the middle of the account Job testifies that he needed one who would be his advocate, and looked for the day when he would see his Redeemer on this earth with his own eyes. Karma isn't the biblical answer to suffering, resurrection is, renewed creation is. Job receives fresh gifts in place of those taken from him - new prosperity on the other side of his suffering and looks to a greater day here with his God.

Jesus is not like Job, Job is like Jesus. The true and greatest man, the suffering servant, is Jesus. It was thought that his suffering would defeat him - how could such horrors occur to one so good? But through the cross Satan was put to shame, exposed, defeated forever.

Jesus prays for those who entrust themselves to him, and by whose resurrection men and women are offered the hope of a physical future, where suffering is over and we will walk the fruitful hills of his world in the company of God.

Image: Unknown

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use (http://planningcenteronline.com/) tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue



2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin



3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong



4. Cornerstone - Hillsong


Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…