Job 21:7-15 Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? (8) Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes. (9) Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them. (10) Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and does not miscarry. (11) They send out their little boys like a flock, and their children dance. (12) They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe. (13) They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. (14) They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. (15) What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
I recently heard the story of a woman who was raised to follow God. She married a man and they began to raise their family around God, his word, his ways. Then her husband called her mother to say, “She’s gone”. Leaving her husband, her children, her whole life… she just left. Something more enticing came along and she could not answer the question: “What profit do we get if we pray to him?”
I also observed a very recent answer to prayer, but would that be enough to turn someone toward God? The problem is not that we can’t marshal evidence for God, or against God, and back and forth. The problem is that life without God is conceivable and illustrated daily. Yes, there are those who are obviously tragic for their distance from God, but what of those who prosper? They are cheerful, living life with family, parties, success, and yet they emphatically refuse God. This world seems to work for them, and they do not blink when challenged to believe in the unseen God.
Job reminds us that God sees the phenomena, but does not accept the conclusion that it somehow undermines the wisdom of prayerfully serving God. In this world which is in rebellion to God, those furthest from God are at times the ones who are most at home.