The epic poem of Job tackles some of life’s most difficult questions regarding the nature of suffering. The friends (Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad) that surround Job represent traditional theology regarding who is to blame when bad things happen. “If anything is wrong, you have done something to create this chaos. There is no such thing as innocent suffering.” Job refuses their ideas and challenges God himself.
We know what it is like when the walls of our house fall on top of us, and we struggle to make sense of why things happen. We are quick to name a unique defect in ourselves to explain horrible events and circumstances beyond our control. “What is wrong with me? It is my fault that my son has this disability.” We live mired in guilt and resentment.
We may exclaim that there is innocent suffering, but our beliefs and thoughts direct us to self-flagellation. Ultimately, we resign ourselves to the notion that somewhere along the line, God messed up when the Divine created me. I am a mistake. We carry this very ill-conceived idea that we are very flawed in our inner core and run from anything that insinuates that we are as good as anyone else. We are destined to always fall short of the mark.
Those of us who struggle with chronic illness know this feeling all too well. From the very beginning of the diagnosis, we blame ourselves. “What did I do to give this to my child? God is punishing me because I lived my life so horribly wrong.” We bury ourselves in a sea of unrealistic assumptions about our innermost being.
Hear the truth as affirmed in the good news of God, we are loved, we are restored, and we are made whole. There may be many things that are left to holy mystery, a child is diagnosed with some type of illness, our lives fall apart without warning, investments fall upside down. Whatever may happen, this we know, we are created in the image of God, we are the children of the Holy One, and Christ’s strength will sustain us in every situation. Praise be to the Most-High God, who fills us with holy light in the face of unspeakable darkness.