When You Can’t Even See the End


Solomon ends the book of Ecclesiastes with the words, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14).”  

Fear here is not a terror or horror, but a worshipful awe and respect of His greatness.  He is greater than the world.  He is greater than the nastiness of the world.  He is greater than negative situations.  Job came to understand this.  For all of his plights, he still acknowledged God as God.  He did as Solomon observed: he respected God.

I recently watched a dramatization of Elie Wiesel’s The Trail of God. The speaker against God made God the author of the famine that led the Jews into slavery.  He made the death of the Egyptians during the Exodus and act of evil.  He showed Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac as an act of moral cowardliness to an unjust demand.  The speaker concluded that “God is not good, He is merely on our side.”   He then went on to say that God in the face of the Holocaust wasn’t even that anymore.

I cannot accept such a view.  My trials are not those of Job, and I am not nearly as upright as him.  I have lost a child, I am (apart from an intervention from God) soon to lose my wife.  I suffer the stresses of this situation, and anxiety over the need to work to pay the bills, and regret daily the need to do so, when all I want to do is spend every remaining moment with her.

I could rail against God.  I could easily say that the situation is unfair (and yes, it does seem to be that our share of suffering is greater than most), but to do so would not do away with the fact that suffering is part of life.  Fair means in its simplest form “even or equal” and yes, mine is more than most (in my secure British home).  But such suffering is not unknown to human kind as a whole.

I do not have any answers here.  Despite decades of theological training, I can offer no more than what Solomon and Job did – in the end God is still God.  But there is a comfort in Jesus’ reminder,  that  that very God cares for every sparrow, how much more me.


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