Inspired by Job 13:1-19
“Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him? Will you show partiality toward him, will you plead the case for God?” Job 13:7-8 (NRSV)
When tragedy befalls someone, it is not uncommon for them to blame God and demand to know why he let this happen. Well-meaning Christians often try to defuse or redirect that anger away from God, believing that such sentiments are inappropriate or even sinful. “God has his reasons,” we might say. “It’s all a part of God’s plan.” If the person persists, we might even become like Job’s friends, and suggest either subtly or directly that they did something to deserve God’s punishment, and in the midst of their grief they’d better repent or else something worse will happen.
When we make such pronouncements, we are not speaking for God; we are speaking out of our own discomfort. God does not need us to protect him from his people’s anger or despair. God does not need us to serve as gatekeepers, preventing all but the most humble and sanitized of petitions to reach his sensitive ears up in the safety of heaven.
When God finally answered Job out of the whirlwind, he did not give Job the answers he sought, but neither did he condemn him for demanding to make his case. Rather, God commanded Job’s friends, who had worked so hard to protect God from Job’s anger, to atone for their sins with a burnt offering, because they had “not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has done.”
Our relationship with God is such that we can bring everything to him in prayer, no matter how gritty, ugly, or despairing. We may not get the answers we want, but we can be assured that he will never turn us away; indeed, in our vulnerability we can only grow closer to the One who created us, redeemed us, and sustains us.
Let us pray. Lord of all, you lowered yourself to our level and became human. Help us to not stand in the way of those who are calling out to you, that they may experience your grace and grow closer to you in their prayer. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.