I love being around two and three year old children when they are at the stage of asking a thousand questions a day. You can see their little minds at work, trying to take in as much information and understand as many things as is possible for them. Sadly, most of them won’t maintain that hunger for learning for long. As life moves on, we too often settle in with what we know and strive to build our whole world around the few things we can grasp. Far too often, many of the things we are certain about on which we build our lives are actually wrong and leads us to make horrible choices.
Two instances in Scripture come to mind in relation to this point. The first from the Old Testament book of Job. Job was a great, godly man who had prospered well and was admired all over the land. But of far greater significance is the fact God admired Job. When the angels came to visit God and give a report of what they had been doing, Satan came along. God asked him where he had been and he reported that he had been up and down and all around on the earth. Then God asked him if he had considered his servant Job. Satan declared that Job didn’t serve God for nothing. He challenged his integrity by saying that if God would stop protecting him and having a wall around him so that he couldn’t get to him, Job would curse God to his face. God accepted Satan’s wager and allowed him to attack Job, but not his body. In one day Job lost all his cattle, his sheep, his camels but by far the worst thing was that all ten of Job’s children were together in one house when a tornado struck the house and all of them were killed immediately. Job’s reaction was to rip his garments, fall before God in worship saying, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
When the angels came back to give their report to God, Satan was with them again and God asked him again about Job and noted how he had reacted to Satan’s attack with strong faith and had not denied him like Satan declared he would. But Satan wasn’t ready to admit his wrong judgment. He again challenged God declaring that, “Skin for skin. All a person has will he give in exchange for his life. Let me attack his body and he will curse you to your face.” God accepted the wager again. He allowed Satan to attack his body but not take his life. Satan struck him with boils from the top of his head to the sole of his feet. There was not anyway to find comfort. He sat in a pile of ashes, with a broken piece of pottery scraping the sores on his body. His wife seeing his agony asked him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Why don’t you curse God and die?”
Job’s three closest friends heard of his plight and came to visit and comfort him. For the first week they were great. They sat with him, saying nothing but feeling with his agony. But when Job cried out in agony, complaining of how God was mistreating him, his friends felt it was their place to defend God and attack Job. They were certain that God blesses us when we are doing right and he curses us when we are doing wrong. Since Job was suffering horribly, he must have committed some horrendous sin that God was punishing him for. No matter how many times Job defended himself, declaring he wasn’t guilty any sin that brought this on, they couldn’t accept it but just became stronger in their condemnation of him. Strangely, Job believed the same way they did, but he knew he hadn’t done anything to cause such suffering so his whole thinking was off. What is amazing is the friends even come up with sins they felt he must have committed that caused the problem. Later, Elihu will even declare that the ten children were doing something very wrong that led to them all being killed in the tornado. They’re mistaken views of God’s blessings and punishment led to their sinning horribly against their friend, Job.
The other case is in the New Testament in John 9 when Jesus and the disciples met a man who had been born blind and the disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus answered them that “Neither this man or his parents sinned.” Instead of pointing at him or his parents for blame, he said that they needed to do the works of God and he spit on the ground, made mud and rubbed it on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam and he would be able to see. Sure enough the man went and washed and came back seeing.
Notice in both situations the friends and the disciples of Jesus wanted to focus on who was to blame. Who is guilty? In both cases they were totally wrong. To begin with Job was also wrong. He kept asking “Why me?” He knew he hadn’t done wrong so why was God bringing these things on him. When God did respond to Job, he never even hinted at the answer to that question. Instead he challenged Job to trust him.
We all both go through things in life and see things in the lives of others that can easily lead us to ask, “Who sinned?” Or, “What did they do wrong that led to this?” but when we ask that question, we are asking the wrong thing. Whether it is for us or our judgment of what is to be done for another, the right question is, “What now?” Assigning blame, finding fault and pointing fingers has been a hobby of people as long as time has gone on. It never bring about good. So, Let’s just STOP IT! No more shouting about whose fault it is, let’s look at the problems and ask “What now?” What can we do to help the hurting one? What can we do when we are the one who is hurting to start in a better direction and actually grow through the hurt and disappointment.
Remember both Job and the blind man came through their ordeal being hugely blessed by God.