This question can be asked from two opposite ends of the spectrum. On one side, it can be asked by those who believe, about how they should expect God to be involved in many areas of life. “What does God have to do with how people vote?” “What does God have to do with where I buy my groceries or home goods?” “What does God have to do with my job?”
On the other side, this this question can be asked of those who don’t believe or doubt, about how much God should be connected to any area of life. “What does God have to do with the leadership and policies of the country?” ”What does God have to do with general education?” “What does God have to do with decisions, policies, and research for medical care?” Both are asking the same type of question, but for very different reasons.
In Job 21, Job explains that his cries, in grief, encompass a broader issue, “Why do the wicked prosper and are never corrected or brought to justice?” Essentially Job is a God-fearing worshipper and is suffering, and he can’t quite grasp how those who don’t care one iota about God seem to prosper and never undergo suffering like he is.
Amidst Job’s rant against the wicked, he describes such people in ways that might seem quite similar to our day and age. Job describes how their estates seem to always prosper and never have any setbacks. He describes their children and how they seem to thrive and always enjoy life. All of this happens, and these people don’t even worship or acknowledge God. In fact, Job says that they mock the very idea that God has anything to do with their prosperity. Job says, “[T]hey say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’” (Job 21:14-15)
This mash of ideas is rolling through Job’s mind, all while he is trying to make sense of life, amidst his misery. Yet, he still holds this one idea among them all. Even though the wicked seem to prosper, Job says, “But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.” (Job 21:16) Amidst his suffering and complexity about life, Job still holds this notion that something more than people’s individual choices have a bearing on life. Job still holds to God’s involvement in the world. Job still holds to God’s involvement in the future destiny of the world — that, in the end, God will judge it and bring it to justice.
Granted, as the story unfolds, Job’s understanding of God is not completely accurate. In his misery, Job’s snide take on life places both the wicked and the righteous with the same end. In one sense, he is right, and in another, he is very off. Once, the Biblical story advances to the coming of Jesus, we see that the fate of the wicked and the righteous is not all the same. Jesus paves the way to show that, yes, the righteous may face death, but their destiny is not tied to death and it’s currency sin. Jesus shows us that the destiny of the righteous — those tied to God — is eternal life in the presence of God, far different than death.
But, Job’s comment that the prosperity of the wicked is not “in their own hands” says something poignant to the life situation in our day and age, as much as it did the situation in Job’s day. “What does God have to do with _________?” According to Job, amidst all his misery, God has a lot to do with all of life, especially, the destiny of all of life, and all of our lives. And, not just with the future, but God has a lot to do with the lives we live right now.
As much as we easily think our own: work, studiousness, planning, calculated risks, etc., is the reason we are prosperous or well-off or have what we have (even if it’s not a lot), the reality is — is that none of us is born in a vacuum. Things were here and in motion long before we arrived in the world, and none of us has the final say on how we get things and how things will play out in the world. As much as believers are more aware of God’s involvement in the world, we can easily be tempted to relegate God to a kind of “managerial” role in our worldview. Believer or unbeliever, we all are tempted to think we somehow control our lives. Biblically, we as humans do have a say, but life is not dependent on us alone.
Even if we already believe and hold to God, what is our perspective of life? When we think, “What does God have to do with _________?” (even if we realize God has something to do with it) do we recognize that whatever results from our choice on politics, purchases, or what we do at our job — that those choices alone, do not determine the future of the world. That is God’s role. We just play a secondary role in how that plays out. We merely receive the gifts that God offers us; and trust he has our best in mind.
I, for one, am somewhat relieved that the future of things do not wholly rely on me. I am thankful that God is far more wiser than me — to know what I need and how those resources can be used best for his good purposes. I hope you also allow your worldview to hold God as the mover and shaper of the world and the destiny of all. What a great and wonderful God he is.