Thursday 22 March 2012

The Injustice of Life: Offer It Up to the Lord

By Br. Daniel Leckman, S.J.

“Life is short, and then you die.” This may not be the best way to describe the cycle of life and death; especially not to a grieving family!  But it’s a start. In fact, reading through the books of wisdom in the Bible has helped me confront the themes of death and of imperfection in creation. Amazingly enough, the sentiment expressed above is found in one of the books of Wisdom.  I won’t tell you which one though! I’ll let people guess via the comments section of this post!

I can tell you, however, that these books ( Job, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom etc…) are ripe with such “rebellious statements” that deny the perfection of God’s creation. The rebellion they express is not against God, but against an idea of God that dates back to ancient Israel:  God works perfectly through creation. Through creation, he takes care of all those who revere and fear him. Anyone else who suffers calamity does so because they’ve sinned against the Almighty. They must repent in order to be ‘restored’. 

Qoheleth, the main speaker in the book of Ecclesiastes, has one thing to say about this statement. He constantly reminds his students that there is no escaping suffering or death in this world.  The pious suffers and perishes just as the sinner does. Just look at Job!!

Indeed, let’s look at Job; if we’re brave enough to do so! Job’s story is not an easy one to digest. When you look at our world, you see how little it takes for people to abandon their faith in God. I once heard an atheist argue that her getting sick proved that God couldn’t exist. I also once saw an agnostic man kneel at his dying nephew’s bedside, and lift up his eyes full of hate to the heavens angrily accusing this God he didn’t believe in for this injustice. The moment ‘our will’ is not done, we, fickle humans, start questioning God. Not unlike Job!!

Still, there’s something different about him: Here’s a man who loses not only most of his wealth, but also every single one of his 9 children, and eventually, his very health.  And what’s his response to this? “The Lord gives and then he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Then of course, he launches into his plea for justice, and is so angry at God that he is ready to bring Him on trial, but he never loses his faith or his love for the divine.

Maybe that’s the whole point in the end. Rather than getting caught up on questions like ‘why do good people suffer?’, perhaps we should learn from the authors of Wisdom:  Be angry at God. Express your outrage at injustice in the world, but understand that by surrendering your frustrations to the Lord, your relationship with Him can only continue to grow and be strengthened, making you an even more fitting servant of God.


  1. By expressing anger at God, one acknowledges his existence.

    Just like in everyday relationships, sometimes it's better to let out frustrations rather than keep them simmering beneath the surface, poisoning the mind over time.

  2. It is a great point. It can be a source of inspiration to pray and to continue offering ourselves completely to the Lord.

  3. "Life is short, and then you die." Is that from Ecclesiastes?

    Br. Daniel, your post reminds me a lot of a book I recently read by Peter Kreeft: Three Philosophies of Life: Ecclesiastes: Life as Vanity; Job: Life as Suffering; Song of Songs: Life as Love.

    By the way, that is my favourite line from Job. (1.21) =)

  4. You are correct Ms Joyce!
    It's a paraphrase of a line from Ecclesiastes that is repeated quite a few times throughout the book...the author says it much more poetically of course!!