Job 19:5-6 “If indeed you exalt yourselves against me, and plead my disgrace against me, know then that God has wronged me, and has surrounded me with His net.”
I was hanging out in the outside tent at a men’s and women’s program I serve at regularly called Set Free Ministries. There was a group of men who had come up from Arizona on a short term basis and I was conversing with a man I had just met. He told me he had been in the Phoenix program for a year now which meant his graduation date was coming up soon but what he revealed to me soon thereafter surprised me. He told me he hadn’t accepted Jesus as Lord of his life and didn’t believe what he had learned, I asked him why and all he could say was that he had many unresolved questions in his mind.
The issues were ones I have heard from many who have rejected Christ and the Bible. Questions such as “why does God let bad things happen to good people?”, or “How do you explain the evolutionary processes we see around us?”, “Why doesn’t God just show Himself to people?” were just a few of the concerns he expressed.
This man had a sense that God was unjust in how He dealt with mankind, how God expressed Himself in history, and how God reveals truth today were issues that had escaped his grasp.
Job wrestled with these issues as well. Whenever someone goes through much difficulty or trials, the questions of why God allows such trials is at the forefront of their minds.
David had issues with how God moved among his people:
Psalm 44:9-14 “But You have cast us off and put us to shame,
And You do not go out with our armies.
You make us turn back from the enemy,
And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.
You have given us up like sheep intended for food,
And have scattered us among the nations.
You sell Your people for next to nothing,
And are not enriched by selling them.
You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and a derision to those all around us.
You make us a byword among the nations,
A shaking of the head among the peoples.
My dishonor is continually before me,
And the shame of my face has covered me,
Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
Because of the enemy and the avenger.
The question is: Does God do wrong by us? In other words, are there times when He is unjust in in His actions? Does God do things that are simply unfair?
These are questions that many have asked and have reached conclusions based off their limited observations.
First let’s take a closer look at the term used by Job:
To be ‘wronged‘ is from the Hebrew word ‘Avath‘ which means several things based off it’s context. In some cases it implies to wrest — bow self, in others it means to (make) crooked., falsifying, overthrow, deal perversely, pervert, subvert, or turn upside down.
Ecclesiastes 7:13 “Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked (Avath)?”
Solomon speculated on this subject of God falsifying mankind, taking what we have tried to set as straight ourselves and He then making it crooked. Why would God do this?
Psalm 146:9 “The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.”
When we attempt to establish our own righteousness we are attempting to subvert God’s righteousness. We are so apt to make generalizations about God’s character from our limited understanding and myopic ability to see. When we make a declaration about God’s intent from our standpoint, we essentially place ourselves in a position as judge; can we then fault God for His response?
The Lord will not allow us to represent His Kingdom with unrighteousness without recourse. The ways in which God bends our lines of truth, overthrows our positions of judgement, perverts our own systems of justice, or simply turns our world upside down is an act of charity.
If we were to continue in the course we were going, it’s end would lead to death. Corrupt paths lead to corrupt endings and it is God’s love that then corrects us and shows us the error of our ways.
The lines of God’s righteousness have been made very clear, with His moral law as our guide and His goodness as our strength, we have everything we need to find life and peace.
In Job’s case as well as others in God’s Word, difficulty isn’t always a result of chastisement. There are many times we see a refining of character by the trials endured. Sin always corrupts and so we can assume there is always something crooked in our way of thinking or our response to what we think is good.
When God upends our reality, He is doing us a favor. It’s not like when a boy gets hold of an ant farm and starts shaking it just to see how mad they get, God isn’t in the business of mischief.
Psalm 116:7-9 “Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.”
When we look back on our lives and God gives us the knowledge of His hand moving in our lives, we will see that in each and every occurrence His loving correction and gentle touch were acts of mercy. Learning to trust God’s provision and understanding that from a position of love, He is always acting good. Our faith can be strengthened when we keep this mindset and we won’t become so discouraged when all the answers to our questions don’t seem to make sense.