An old adage called Murphy’s Law states that “If something can go wrong, it will.” The Book of Job states the matter a bit more poetically: “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Eliphaz, Job’s friend who gave this piece of wisdom, was probably misguided about some things, but on this point he was absolutely right: life in a fallen world is by its very nature marked by trouble and disappointment.
Usually we don’t have to go looking for that trouble; it seems to find us on its own. Not that the struggles most of us face are anything like those that Job confronted. But we still have plenty of reminders that life is less than perfect: illnesses, heartaches, breakdowns in our relationships, disappointments in our careers, the death of friends and loved ones, natural disasters, wars. If we live long enough and remain honest, sooner or later we are compelled to reach the same conclusion that Job, Eliphaz, and their companions came to as they sat around Job’s ash heap: “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.”
Have you accepted that reality? Or do you deny it, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds, or should be? Some people go to great lengths to avoid pain. Job encourages us to accept the troubles of life, face them squarely, and turn to God in the midst of them. And if we should be fortunate enough to bypass some of the worst evils in the world, then the most appropriate response is thankfulness, as well as compassion for those with a more common experience.