I find it hard to look at what is happening in some parts of the world, including our own country and not feel, disappointment and anger, and even feel inclined to ask questions about where God is in all of this. In particular I find it disturbing that so many innocent people seems to be suffering.
For these reasons I have gone back to the book of Job and use that book to reflect on some of these issues. Chapters 1 and 2 are key chapters, where Job, unlike Israel in its dark days, is righteous and yet suffering terribly. It is a little worrying that God seems to bargaining with Satan over Job’s faithfulness, and even seems to encourage Satan to afflict Job. Israel deserved what it got. I’m not sure the same can be said of Job. And Job himself has an unenviable task of insisting at the same time both that God ought to be just and that he himself is innocent, even though he is suffering.
Other keys chapters in this book are Job 38-41, which, as one commentator notes, “both is an and isn’t an answer to the problem.” In one way it simply restates the problem: if God has all this power over creation, then he should be more actively involved in “running the moral side of the cosmos.”
And yet in another way, chapters 38-41 make clear where God is headed in dealing with the problem of evil. He is acting in and through the creation itself to right the wrongs and deal with injustice. God does not promise Job that when this is all over he will be with him in heaven. In Job the key to restoration will lie with what God is doing in creation, that he is in fact sovereign over this world and the cosmos.
Chapter 42 picks up this idea and takes it further. Job repents, his friends are rebuked, and Job’s fortunes are restored. Although we may not feel entirely satisfied with the conclusion to the book of Job, the book insists that creation matters, and “that if things are to be put right they are put right within creation itself.” (Wright)
It is still a good world. Yes it has been tainted with evil, but it is still good. When humankind fell, human relationships with God, with each other, and with the created order where damaged. But the goodness of the world remains. And God is still at work now, perhaps in ways that we may not see or understand, but God’s purpose is to restore those relationships and bless his creation.