Friday, January 13, 2012

The suffering of the innocent - Comparing Job and Paul

Andrzej Gieniusz has done a major study on Romans 8, entitled Romans:18-30 Suffering Does Not Thwart the Future Glory (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999). Towards the end he makes a good comparison between Job and Paul in terms of their view of the suffering of the innocent.

“For Job it was the course of a theology set forth in the example of two animals, Behemoth and Leviathan, seemingly a hippopotamus and a crocodile, the ‘most majestic’ and ‘most meaningless’ of creatures, supremely wild and terrible but without any purpose in the human economy, so that the reason of their existence is unintelligible for us. The course made Job grasp that even if in God’s manner of creating and governing the world there is much that is incomprehensible to humans, even threatening their existence, all of it is the work of a wise God who has made the world the way it is for his own inscrutable purposes. Innocent suffering is a hippopotamus or a crocodile. Even if it seems absurd to our eyes it makes sense for god who must be allowed to know what he is doing and, therefore, who can and should be trusted.” (page 283)

“The point of departure which has led Paul to trust in the face of the mystery of suffering is not a God who is incomprehensible yet wise and powerful in the order of His creation but a God who exceeds human expectations and the possibilities of comprehending in the way of His salvation. The ultimate ground for trust is actually offered in the unfathomable gesture of God’s love which cannot be expressed adequately except by the means of a paradoxical formulation ‘giving up His own Son for all of us’ (Rom 8:32). And because it is the gesture of salvific love and not only of creative power, Paul does not remain – As Job did – in an awful and humble silence (‘See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer’ Job 40:3-5). He begins, instead, to sing the hymn of trust in the love of God manifested through Jesus Christ, the love which, in spite of the sufferings and in the midst of them, makes the victory for those who love God already tangible.” (page 284)

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