Suffering in the Book of Job - Part 1
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
The patriarch Job was a godly man with a godly way of life, he "feared God and shunned evil" (Job 1:8b) and, like Noah, he had found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8). He was helped with the doctrine of God, and the difficult problem of human suffering. throughout the process of his trials and the debate set out in the Book of Job with his ‘friends’ who were critical of him.
Through his trials and pains, Job found what the righteous person longs for, i.e. a clearer view of God and deeper fellowship with him. Believers often ask God to draw them closer to Him, or to humble them (not recommended!), or to take them personally deeper in the Christian life, only to complain when He does so?
Job learned what he could not have known except in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Job’s religious experience reminds the people of God that God intends them to ‘move on with Him’ and not remain as babes in Christ.
Finite minds of men are not able to see the big picture and hence fail to understand all the ways of God. Believing in the greatness and goodness of God however led to a greater spiritual awareness for Job. This was the major solution to Job’s anger, lack of inner peace and it continued the work of holy sanctification in his life. It is only the Christian who can really know what is going on through suffering.
Suffering is not useless or without reason but rather it is the indication of the love of Christ to us (Heb. 12:5-6), but do we take heed? Suffering is meant to bring us to God through Jesus Christ and to connect us through repentance and faith into a prayer life with God.
Perhaps this is why so many of Christ Jesus’ greatest believers have suffered more than most. This is not cruel as some will contend but mercy and grace calculated to overcome the problem of loneliness, pride, stubbornness and hardness of heart. Life is hard for everyone, irrespective of salvation but God’s people always need to remember that they live in a fallen world and everyone suffers.
Suffering is part of the process and fallen order in the universe. Suffering is an ordained experience and a reality just as much as God’s love and joy are for us. That is so now, and will continue to be so, until the second coming of Jesus Christ and the new order begun (Rom. 8:20-23).
When it comes to suffering, there are some things we just do not understand, so perhaps to ask the question, “Why?” is the most common response to one’s pain. Why do people suffer? Why are tragedies allowed to happen? Why me? All such “Whys?” are asked when trouble and injury strike ourselves and those we love the most.
Surely, it would be better to ask however, “What now?” Perhaps things have changed; and we must take stock. To ask, “What now?” breaks the cycle of anger, depression and self-pity we feel. “What now?” ushers in new hope and shifts our focus from ourselves to God and what He is up to in our lives. This will help God’s people persevere to the end and not turn back.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Rev Ian S McNaughton is presently serving as the Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Fund in the UK.
Photo by Matt Lamers on Unsplash
For Other Articles by Rev Ian S McNaughton
"When You Pray..." (Luke 11:2)