Sunday, May 19, 2013

Job, Dr. Jekyll, and Frankenstein

In February of 2012, I wrote a blog post about a car accident I was in, 2 weeks before the Christmas of 2011, and I described the way God had been changing my perception of His blessings. He was teaching me to trust Him, and to recognize trials as a bigger work He was doing in me. I didn't know that He was just getting started. On March 14, 2012, I watched a woman, named Barbara Connoughy, get run over and killed on 1st and Main St., in El Cajon. It was a difficult thing for me to deal with. I had also been struggling with depression for about 2 years. It was a tough time, and somewhere in there I became very angry with God. I was of the opinion that I didn't deserve any of this. God was treating me unfairly! What had I done that was so terrible? I go to church. I pray. I even read my Bible! … I didn't deserve this. I was so angry.

Have you read the book of Job? It is my favorite book in the Bible. (Mostly because it mentions dinosaurs and the Ice Age! Seriously, go look it up.) I've read Job many times. It’s very long, so let me give you the abridged version. Job is a righteous man, who has been very blessed by God. He has a lot of property, animals, and children. The Bible says Job offered sacrifices to God every day, and even sacrificed extra animals on behalf of his children, just in case they had sinned. One day, Satan went before God and convinced God to allow him to torture Job to test Job’s loyalty to God. God agreed, and Satan destroyed everything Job owned, including killing Job’s sons and daughters. When that wasn't enough to get Job to curse God, Satan suggested it was because Job still had his health. So, God gave Satan control over that as well, so long as he didn't kill Job. Satan didn't waste any time. He inflicted Job with terrible boils all over his body that were extremely painful (and probably disgusting).  Job’s friends came to “comfort” Job by encouraging him to repent for the sins he obviously committed, but Job insisted he was innocent and that God’s punishment was a mistake. Then, out of nowhere, God came down to speak to Job. The last few chapters are of God questioning Job, and very powerfully putting him in his place. My favorite verse from this section is Job 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”

This story confused me for a very long time. This was a man who apparently did everything right. The Bible even says so. Job 1:1 says, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Job’s long winded friends tried to get him to confess his secret sins, but Job denied having any un-confessed sins over and over again.

Alright, we will come back to Job. When I was in high school (I was home schooled), my parents had me use a curriculum that was a study of two different world views. I had to read two books. The first was Frankenstein, and the second was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In Frankenstein, the author, Mary Shelly, tells the story of an ugly monster, who tries to do good at first. He is turned evil by society, however, when no one believes he is actually trying to help, because all they see is an ugly monster. The world view presented in this book is that man is inherently good, and is only bad because circumstances and society make him that way. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, on the other hand, is the story of a man who is tired of doing the right thing all of the time. Dr. Jekyll discovers a way to release his inner “bad”, and begins going out on the town at night as his evil alter ego, Mr. Hyde. Eventually, Mr. Hyde becomes strong enough to gain control of Dr. Jekyll whenever he wants, and he ends up murdering a woman. Dr. Jekyll cannot find a way to get rid of Mr. Hyde, or stop him from taking over, and he kills himself in the end to stop Mr. Hyde. The world view presented here is that man is essentially evil, and it is our job to fight against our sin nature to keep it at bay. The more we exercise our evil selves, the stronger they become, and the harder it will be to make right decisions.

So, here is where I am humbled. When I did the study on these two world views, I decided that I believe the world view of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I am a sinful person. My thoughts are easily corrupted, and my heart is bent toward evil things. I have sinned. I do sin. I am a sinner.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.”

“The wages of sin is death.”

That is a far heavier punishment than the struggles I've faced, or that I will face, in my life, but it is what I deserve. It’s what I have earned. And yet, God paints us the most beautiful picture at the end of that verse. “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” Even though I am a wretched human being, with wounds and stains, God offers me life forever, and He offers it freely.

I get it now. I understand why God had a problem with Job’s self-righteousness. No matter how good Job was, it could never be good enough. Job had sinned at some point in his life, and that was enough to earn himself the death penalty. And he had no right to question God, and to accuse God of doing the wrong thing. No matter what I have to deal with in my life, no matter how bad things may become, I will never earn the right to question what God is working out in my life. In Job 38:2, God reminds Job of his position when He asks, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?”

God has a plan. I don’t know what it is, I may not know any of it until it is actually happening (or it has happened and I can look back and think “Ohhhhh…! I see what you did there.”), but I know that God loves me, and He has offered me eternal life. So, I will press on, having accepted what Christ has offered, and I will trust Him. I will remember that it is not my place, or helpful, to pity myself and become angry at God.

James 1: 2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

And Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

In all things, even in the messy, uncomfortable, painful, embarrassing, difficult, irritating, and humbling things, God works for the good of those who love him.