By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“God cannot be boxed in or universally predicted, especially when people suffer.” – Dan Boone
In the book of Proverbs, the writer talks a lot about “reap what you sow” theology.
“Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail” (Proverbs 22:8).
“The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways” (Proverbs 14:14).
Those who do good will reap good. Those who do bad will reap bad.
And this idea makes sense to us. We’ve seen it. We understand it. We think: they are poor because they aren’t good with their money. They are homeless because they aren’t responsible. They are miserable because they don’t make good choices. But there is a story in the Bible that smashes this idea to pieces. There is one man who breaks the pattern.
It’s the story of Job.
Job, a righteous and upright man, becomes the subject of a heavenly challenge between Satan and God. Satan believes that he can make Job curse God. So, God allows Satan to have power over everything in Job’s life, providing Satan does not kill him.
It is then that Job’s life is racked with tragedy. Camels, servants, sons, and daughters – all were lost to Job and yet he did not curse God. It is then that Satan strikes up painful sores all over Job’s body. He trembles with the pain, yet he does not curse God.
The story of Job shows us a man who is struck with painful despair and agony, and yet he did no wrong.
In many ways, we cling to this “reap what you sow” theology with an iron fist because in it we find security. If I am a good person, if I do the right thing, if I make the right choices, then no harm will come to me or my family. We hope and believe that if all we do is reap good, no tragedy will befall us.
We look at other people’s desperate and sad situations and we make ourselves think that they must have gotten themselves there because of some wrongdoing or poor decisions. We don’t like to think that the hardship that they are facing may have been unprecedented, seemingly random, and uncalled for. Because if no action of their own spawned this adversity, then that means it can too easily happen to us as well.
But the truth is that even if we are upright and righteous like Job, tragedy can still strike. So I think that we have to hold both of these biblical thoughts in tension in our own minds. On one side, those reap good will sow good and those who reap evil will sow evil, but on the other side, bad things happen to good people.
It makes us uncomfortable to think that bad things may happen to me even though I am following God wholeheartedly. But that is where faith comes in.