By The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
At the beginning of chapter 31, Job mounts a defense of his own blameless life. He defends himself against a litany of possible transgressions including: adultery, lying, greed, injustice, alack of compassion, idolatry, violence, and wickedness. He proclaims that he is innocent of all offense and would certainly defend himself if only God would bring an indictment against him.
In Job’s mind, if he had sinned, if he had broken God’s law, he would deserve punishment. But since he is blameless, obedient of God’s law, he deserves blessing and vindication. Job wants simple cause and effect but he learns that God’s ways are rarely simple. Like the psalmist in Psalm 6, all Job can do is look to God to heal him and redeem his life. Only God can save him and Job wonders how long he will have to suffer for reasons beyond his understanding.
In the second chapter of Galatians, Paul proclaims to his readers that it is not our obedience to God’s law that makes us righteous because as sinful human beings our obedience is impossible. No matter how hard we try to be righteous the fact is we all sin, we all fall short of the glory of God. Therefore, the law cannot redeem us because we cannot keep it. The law only serves to reveal our sinful natures. For Paul our justification (being made right with God) is a gift of grace given through our faith in Jesus Christ. Job may have been a righteous person but we are not. We are dependent on the grace of God as revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
When things go wrong in your life for no apparent reason, when something bad happens that you did not cause and do not deserve, where is God in all of that for you?
Paul says that he has been crucified with Christ. What does he mean by that? What part of Paul has died?
Loving God, there is so much in this life we do not understand. Our vision is limited and we see life as though through a mirror dimly. Grant us your peace that we might rest in your grace and trust in the reconciling work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.