Fatalism Antivenom

Job 5:8-27, 1 Peter 3:8–18a, Psalm 77 (read online ⧉)

When we talk about the underlying joy of Lent (see yesterday’s devotion), we must have an understanding that this underlying joy fully rests on God, and who God is. This foundation of joy is not shaken or disturbed by the world and all its troubles, because (and only because) it is built on God.

In our passage from Job, Eliphaz is still lecturing Job. Job 5:8 is a legal appeal. Eliphaz is telling Job that all Job has to do is make an appeal to God. If Job is as innocent as he claims, then God will spare Job. Eliphaz continues to speak, and it seems that his words are accurate, that is until we get to verse 19 (and on through 27). Eliphaz sums up his legal argument from verse 8. God will keep Job from everything bad, if Job is indeed innocent, and continues to appease God. This is essential to understand. Eliphaz had fallen victim to the culture around him regarding God. Eliphaz’s understanding was that God was transactional in nature. You give God what he wants, you’ll get good (not necessarily what you want, but still good). The conclusion that Eliphaz made was that Job didn’t fulfill his end of the transaction.

This the perspective that many people have of God, including many Christians. This view, however, does not have the joyful foundation that is essential to a Christian life. This view is fatalistic. In other words, the world is full of bad, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Peter has a significantly different view. Peter, having spent time with Jesus, and life being transformed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, know we can do something about it.

Peter gives us direction on how to be life giving to fellow believers, and even to those who do not believe. Peter knows that bad will happen. Yet, he encourages his readers (and us) to rely on Jesus Christ. This reliance is the power of the joyful life that does not laugh in the face of danger, or dance in the midst of trial, but understands that God is there beside us in and through it all.

1) How have you been fatalistic (i.e., “there’s nothing I can do”) in your lift?

2) How are Peter’s words an antidote to fatalism?