Perhaps no biblical story is more worthy of a conversation during our series of “Spin Doctoring” than the story of Job, found in the Old Testament. A good, loyal, and honest man, Job believed in the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and was blessed for it. He had many children and an honest and kind wife and was prosperous in his economic ventures as well. His vineyards flourished, and he and his family did not want for anything.
But what comes next is truly the case for spin doctoring. One day, Satan appears before the court of God in heaven. Upon discovering that he has “been roaming the Earth and patrolling it” (Job 1:7), God asks whether Satan has noticed his servant Job. There is “no one on Earth like him,” God says, “blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil” (Job 1:8). Satan acknowledges that he has indeed witnessed the acts of Job, but challenges God, asking if it is not for nothing that Job believes.
After all, Satan notes, “You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land” (1:10); is it not easy, then, to believe when the blessings of the Lord are multiple? For if you “put forth your hand and touch all that he has . . . surely he will curse you to your face,” Satan proclaims (1:11). But God knows that Job’s faith is secure, and offers to show Satan that Job will not forsake Him in times of hardship.
Satan thus brings every imaginable evil down upon Job with repulsive gusto — in a few short days, he kills or allows all of Job’s livestock to be stolen, kills all of Job’s children, and afflicts Job with terribly painful sores. Job’s wife and friends encourage him to renounce God, but Job is unwavering in his faith in the Lord. Later in the story, God asks Job a series of rhetorical questions, to which Job affirms that God alone is the most powerful and most holy one. Pleased, God returns Job’s health and wealth, giving him twice the property as before, more children, and an extremely long life.
Why, though, we might ask, would God allow such horrible things to happen to his good and faithful servant? It seems, at face value, as though God is simply taking advantage of Job to win a deal with the devil. The problem of evil is one which has long challenged philosophers who grapple with the existence of God. How can an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent God such as ours allow evil to exist in the world?
The answer to that question, though, is deceivingly simple. We are so quick to forget that our faith in God affords us the promise of eternal life. Eternal life means eternal time for God to be certain that our lives are ones which are great goods to us on the whole (even if our earthly lives were full of suffering), “for nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco. Check out our exciting featured news articles.