Job makes a disturbing declaration; yet, I understand what he’s experiencing. Sudden death. Shocking. I have felt his pain. God is bringing restoration to me—I’m healing. However, you still have vivid memories. You recall that moment. Job hints at a sense of abandonment. I understand. Loss is excruciating, confusing. And later, you cringe at the memory of the shocking nature of the tragedy. It comes over you.
“When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.” Job 9:23
I differ with Job’s accusation, in Job 9:23, that God mocks at the misfortune of the guiltless. His flawed statement errs in two aspects: First, God doesn’t taunt us; and second, we aren’t innocent. Job’s statement is simply without defense.
First, God does not mock at the tragedies of those experiencing brokenness.
The psalms of lament begin with complaint and end with trust. Even before an answer is given. God is good, and his perceived mocking points instead to the dire state of brokenness itself. Brokenness is what mocks us. Our enemy derides us. Evil taunts us.
God agrees with our complaint. It’s astounding, I know. As I have poured out my heart in prayers of lament, I have heard the Spirit say that the redemptive story heralds the Trinity’s agreement with complaint. God would describe to any mourner that brokenness is so horrible, unspeakable, and hideous he had to send his Son to overwhelm that brokenness. Paul explains, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…” (Colossians 1:13-14). Sin and brokenness entered the world. We are victims of this evil system, and, at the same time, we are evil. Brokenness in every form entered our world with the entrance of sin.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
God does not mock at our calamity. Yet, this reality of brokenness born of sin leads us to the second error in Job’s declaration.
Second, none are innocent. Job wasn’t guiltless, and neither are we.
Socrates famously said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10).
Socrates focused on the need to know yourself; Solomon focused on the need to know and fear the Lord.
But both are correct.
Proverbs 14:6 says, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain…” Proverbs 28:26 says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool…”
Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way…” Proverbs 17:24 says, “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom…”
Every man and woman must know themselves and how they seek to approach God. Are they an arrogant and foolish person or a humble and wise person? These verses in Proverbs show us our identity matters. We are not innocent. Scoffers seek in vain. A fool trusts his own mind. Yet, the prudent discern. And the discerning sets his face.
We assume the best of ourselves. However, when the kindness of the Spirit’s conviction overwhelms us in our depravity, we acknowledge who we are—we know ourselves. We acknowledge our need for the wisdom of God. Because we are not innocent. We move from being a scoffer to being prudent.
Paul says, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All. Every. I could include numerous other passages, but this example is clear.
We are not without guilt.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
So, we are not innocent, and God does not mock. On the contrary, we are guilty but have received the gracious and merciful offer to be made clean by the blood of Jesus. And he does not mock, but he has shed his love upon us by giving us his Son.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8