What You Can and Can't Do
The other day as I was reading Job 40 I was made to think about the awful scene in Dallas the previous week when five police officers were cut down in cold blood by a sniper. So many people were hurt by the loss of their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends murdered because of their race while serving others. What a tragedy! In addition, I reflected on how, whether justified or unjustified, a large segment of our population lives in fear of the police. The overwhelming majority of black citizens do not hate those in law enforcement and they deplore any violence against the police, but the fear felt by so many in the black community is real.
There was much to be sad about in our country and after I had the article almost completed, across the sea Nice, France was struck by a horrific tragedy. But what does all this have to do with Job 40? In the earlier chapters of the book, Job had repeatedly questioned the Lord about His failure to properly administer justice. He simply couldn’t understand how God could allow the wicked to prosper and the righteous to suffer, so one of the things the Almighty did was to challenge Job to see if he could do any better.
“Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
And array yourself with glory and beauty.
Disperse the rage of your wrath;
Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him.
Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low;
Tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together,
Bind their faces in hidden darkness.
Then I will also confess to you
That your own right hand can save you.” Job 40:8-14
While Job was complaining about the way God does things and our desire to fix the world’s problems is not intended as a reflection on the Lord’s sense of justice, it remains true that we are no more suited than Job to pretend our arms are strong enough to fix the inequities of this world or that our voices can thunder with the majesty and power of the Almighty. We must not allow ourselves to spend all our time fretting over problems we are powerless to solve. If I expend my time and energy on things too big to handle, I will not only be wasting time, but I will set myself up for such a high level of frustration that it may affect my faith. I can’t stop racism in this country. I can’t protect all those who put on the uniform to enforce our laws and keep us safe. I could list a lot of other wrongs I can’t right, but you get the point. We must learn to accept the fact that there are wrongs which will never be made right until the Lord returns (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; et al).
No, I can’t fix the world’s problems, but if I step back from this dark picture of the world as a whole, I may see things I can do. Though all that Mary couldn’t do was more than she could do for Jesus as He faced the cross, our Lord praised her and said, “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mark 14:8-9). While I can’t end racism, I might be able to make a difference in a few lives by speaking to people, being nice to those who are different, expanding my circle of friends, etc. When I see someone in law enforcement, is it within my power to take a moment to speak and thank him for his service? While fully aware that this won’t keep someone else from seeking to harm him, at least for a moment he knows he is appreciated. Jesus called us to be lights in this world and I hope to do a better job of speaking to people (including strangers), showing kindnesses, etc. that will at least make one little corner of the world a better place.
You and I can’t fix the world’s problems because they are largely the result of a rejection of God and His word, but if our lights are turned up a little brighter we just might lead others to a greater interest in God and every life led to Jesus and His saving gospel (Romans 1:16) is one less person practicing hatred or violence. That we can’t do it all is no reason not to do what we can.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
All quotes taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1994, Thomas Nelson Publishers.