Baffled to Fight Better, comments on the Book of Job, is one of the few books Oswald Chambers worked on in his lifetime.
Even at that, Baffled to Fight Better did not appear in book form until after his death.
The book was based on talks Oswald gave at Zeitoun YMCA camp in Egypt during the early months of 1917.
Biddy, as usual, took down everything in her shorthand and then edited the manuscript into a readable form.
Oswald discussed the format with her, read through the galleys, but beyond that, left everything to her.
Or, as he wrote to a friend:
“[I] hope to send you a book on Job soon (at least Biddy does, I take no more responsibility after having spoken my mind).”
Why the book of Job?
By early 1917, World War I had battled on for more than two years.
The numbers of dead boggle the mind–millions.
They all knew it.
In writing about this time, memoirist Macy Halford (My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir) recounted Oswald’s challenging thoughts on the war, God and the men he loved:
“God, Oswald said in these lectures, was a God of order and morality but also of ‘permissive will,: He permitted His children to suffer.
God was not synonymous with His blessings, and, though He was good, He didn’t always spare the faithful.”
Halford’s explaination is a tough message and one I learned–the hard way–many years ago.
It sobered me and took me, always, to a favorite verse out of Job 2:10 where Job’s wife challenges him to curse God and die after the tragedies in their family.
“You speak as one of the [spiritually] foolish women speaks [ignorant and oblivious to God’s will]. Shall we indeed accept [only] good from God and not [also] accept adversity and disaster?” (Amplified Bible)
Oswald’s comments reflect hard-line Christianity, but it came from the mouth of a man who knew and determined to love His God–come what may.
True of Job; true of Oswald Chambers; and more than once, true of me.
I still didn’t like it.
Why such a message?
If you are facing the possibility of death or dismemberment–and most World War I soldiers were–what sort of message would you want to hear?
“What did this mean for the soldiers? It meant first, Oswald said, that they didn’t need to be blindly positive or optimistic about the situation they found themselves in.
“They didn’t need to apologize or argue for God, or accept the platitudes forced upon them by “priggish” ministers.”
She went on to explain the thinking man’s reaction to tragedy would always be despair, but “God never blames a man for despair,” said Oswald.
Instead, Oswald pointed back to Job who voiced honest emotion, “I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
Halford quoted Oswald again:
“Nothing is taught in the Book of Job, but there is a deep, measured sense of Someone understanding.
She knew, as do I and hopefully you, that it was God and grace who stood with Job, Oswald, and all the soldiers who embraced Oswald’s teachings at Zeitoun.
“To Job, who’d lived in the world of the Old Testament, God had offered reparations; to those living in the New, He offered redemption.
Job ultimately received riches and land returned, plus more children–though I always think that’s a bittersweet ending.
On this side of the Cross, we receive grace and Heaven.
What does it mean?
For the soldiers who died in the Great War, for Oswald, for Job, for me and for you, it means God is always there, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
It doesn’t mean we’ll be spared pain, horror or death, but simply we will not be alone nor forsaken.
The nature of life means everyone will die someday.
The meaning of Job and the nature of God as described in Baffled to Fight Better, means everyone has an opportunity to not die alone nor forsaken.
I know this because of men not afraid to look at their God and circumstances and choose to believe.
Thanks be to God.
God, Job, Oswald Chambers and facing horror. Click to Tweet
Baffled to Fight Better–how and why? Click to Tweet