I love the book of Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible. It is a story of God's love and human perseverance in the face of tremendous hardship. Job faced insurmountable problems after a fabulously successful life. Near the beginning of the book, Job laments his predicament, "The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Like Job, we all doubt, even to the point of cynicism, but who can experience unfair, painful and devastating events in life and continue to praise God? Those with faith in a Creator who loves us, forgives us and wants a relationship with us. Job tried, but his words reveal doubt.
Government institutions, on the contrary, do not love, forgive or have relationships. Governments are comprised of sinful people — like you and me. We should not trust them. Our Founding Fathers established checks and balances in our unique republic to control our sinful nature. They appealed to the "better angels of our nature," to quote Abraham Lincoln. Yet, even our own government can be quick to give rewards for political favor, and just as quickly take away our rights. For example, the recent Pandora Papers reveal shady finances of the politically connected. Not all were illegal, but all revealed sly loopholes only for elites.
Our Declaration of Independence avows Americans' rights are "endowed by their Creator" — not by a government. However, many now reject the idea of a creator. Instead, they view humanity as the greatest existence in the universe. Examples are everywhere: in a climate change agenda that links every weather phenomenon to human activity, rejecting "acts of God"; in the absurd cancel culture movement, where truth is judged not on fact but by those weaving a narrative to reflect their own reality; and in the barbaric act of murdering an unborn baby created by God in his image and calling it a choice.
The further we move toward a society without God, the further we descend into chaos and disorder. Our children struggle to know whether they are girls or boys. People who decry a lack of racial justice want to tip the scales in favor of their own race. Crime-ridden communities that require the most police presence demand less presence, then complain because of unsafe communities. Students who work the hardest, make the best grades and show the most promise must compete with those who are less capable but have a more desired skin color or gender.
Graduates discover the same trend in the workplace. We send children to college who lack the intellectual ability, maturity or desire to compete, and complain because we have too few skilled laborers and craftsmen and too many lawyers and bureaucrats. In Afghanistan, the phenomenally capable U.S. military was shamefully defeated by illiterate tribesmen in one of the most backward countries on earth because of our own incompetent and corrupt political and military leadership.
All this reflects a society that has lost its way — a bizarro world where ethics are passe. We confuse the sacred with profane, love with lust, education with entertainment, arduous work with entitlement, success with materialism, and moral with immoral. As our republic descends further into the mire wrought by those who have everything to live with but nothing to live for, we absurdly consider ourselves a "progressive" nation.
In the end of the book of Job, there is a fascinating exchange between Job and the Almighty. It begins with God teaching Job about himself. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" God asks, and he continues with deeply probing questions. At last, Job understands and humbly asks forgiveness for his doubt. God blesses him.
Do we as a nation follow Job's example of hope, or shall we continue our current course of despair?
Roger Smith, a local author, is a frequent contributor to the Times Free Press.