One of the most difficult things to deal with in this world is why do good people suffer. It makes sense in our minds that bad people or people who make poor decisions suffer but when people who are seemingly good people suffer we wonder where God’s justice is.
As we move forward in our study we will see that Job has the worst day, (maybe hour) that anyone might ever imagine. It is Jobs Day of Infamy when his peaceful world gets torn apart and destroyed and life as he knew it will never be the same again.
Faith is what is needed when we do not understand God’s ways and faith is what we hold onto when our world falls apart.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
It takes faith to trust the unseen and that God is somehow using all of this pain and sorrow for His glory. We have faith that what we are walking through is for reasons that go beyond our understanding and knowledge
Read Job 1:13-2:10
Satan waste no time launching his assault on Job after he got permission from God and he will use all the lead way he was given to test this man of God. Two of the catastrophes were at the hand of people and two were weather related. Satan influenced men to carry out the evil desires and for a time he was given power to control the weather.
This was not judgement of his children because they sinned as some have suggested because, as we already discussed Job was not sure if they sinned in their heart which indicated they were living moral lives as well. Pain and suffering are tough to handle because as Ravi Zachariah says in his book why suffering, we believe in three truths
Three Truths we believe:
God is all powerful: He can do anything He wills.
God is all-loving: He cares with an intense value for His Creation
Evil is a reality: Suffering is an all-pervading part of this world.
It is these three truths that cause us so many problems when we try to explain who God is. It is these three truths that Atheist use to show that God is a cruel and a unloving God. It is these three truths that we as Christians sometimes get embarrassed about because we cannot explain or understand them all being true at the same time.
“An all-powerful God can do anything He pleases, and from our perspective, the loving thing to do is to ease the pain of someone you love. Yet evil and suffering occupy a major part of our human experience; God has not removed them. These assertions together make no sense.” (Why Suffering?, Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Pg 6)
Ravi Zacharias goes on to say that many people then deny one of the three truths to make sense of it all. In our effort to try and defend a God who does not make sense we actually make false statements about Him in order to make ourselves a “god” we can understand. Most people do not say that God is not all loving but they make him a weak God by saying He really is not in control or that He has turned over control of the world to Satan leaving Him powerless. The reality is an all-powerful and all- loving God can use evil to accomplish things is something we as finite creatures cannot understand.
So here we are given a glimpse in the Bible that God does not avoid the topic of suffering like some religions do but meets it head on showing how it all works together. The book of Job was given to us so that we can have a deeper understanding of why pain and suffering exist and that there is a purpose for our pain and suffering.
“The intellectual answers are important. But intellect alone cannot help us navigate the minefield of pain and suffering. Other worldviews also offer intellectual answers. But Christianity alone offers a person. (Why Suffering? , Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Pg 30)
In our suffering, and in our consoling others in pain, I think it is important that we remember that the intellectual answers will not always ease the pain and suffering that is taking place. When Jesus left the earth He made a promise to all believers that He would send the Helper the Holy Spirit who will be with us through all that we go through. God does not just comfort us He sends Himself as the comforter. God knew that on this earth it would not be all blessings and joy and that we would need comforting from the hurt and pain we would experience. This is the uniqueness of Christianity that no religion can offer you because God has not only provided a way for you to be with Him, He also promises to guide and strengthen you to accomplish His will.
Read Job 1:20-2:10
1) Grieving is not a lack of faith
He Tore his robe and shaved his head, he fell to the ground
Job was not hiding his pain like we do and he practiced a common way of grieving. Shaving your head, tearing your robe were common ways to show others your were in pain. When we grieve there are not many outside factors to say that we are hurting.
A person who has a broken arm will put that arm in a cast so we can clearly see that healing has to take place. When someone has a broken heart there are not many indicators we have to let everyone know that we are hurt? Yes we may cry for a time but we might also show anger and sometimes people misread our hurt with just being a jerk.
I am not sure what it is with our culture but we do not know how or we do not like it when other people grieve. I have been in several situations where people were told to stop grieving the loss of a loved one because they just needed to trust God . They were put down as if they did not really believe the promises of God because they were hurting over losing a loved one. Yes we know that there is a hope that goes beyond this world but that does not mean we do not mourn the loss of a loved one. Our society is so against pain that they want a quick fix for it instead of allowing the process of healing to take place.
Grieving, just like putting your arm in a cast, is how the healing begins to happen. In John chapter 11 we see Jesus getting word that Lazarus was sick but instead of rushing to go and heal him, Jesus waits and says in verse 4,
John 11:4 “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Many times we wonder why God does not act right away and we have to know and trust Him that there is a purpose to what He is doing and what He is allowing. We know how the story ends with Lazarus but look at Jesus reaction to how people were grieving.
John 11:32-37 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus did not rebuke their grieving and He experienced the human emotions of grieving and the loss of a friend. Notice at the end in verse 36 and 37 that there were two reactions to Jesus not coming through in time. One group said, “look how much He loves” and the other group said, “why could He not save him?” It goes back to our problem of pain because we believe God is all –powerful and all- loving so the things that happen in this world do not make sense. The reactions at the end of the verse are the same reactions people have today. Either they say that look how much Jesus loves or why did Jesus not come through for us. But Jesus never promised us a smooth path in this world despite what many false teachers say. In fact Jesus taught us the opposite.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus promised us pain and suffering in this world and with pain and suffering comes grieving. One day we are promised when we step into Heaven that God will end our grieving and pain (Revelation 21:4) but until then we have to keep trusting Him for all we are going through. Jesus demonstrated that it was alright to grieve because grieving is not a lack of faith it is a demonstration that you truly loved.
2) Faith keeps you God focused
And he Worshiped
Jobs response to the tragedies is the highlight of the book and an example to us all. I am not sure this is how I would have reacted right away but you can imagine the anger that Satan had when he heard Job praising God. Job did not raise his fist to the sky and curse God for allowing all these things to happen but instead he acknowledge that God is worthy of worship despite what he just experienced. Most people praise God when things are good and curse Him when things do not go their way but Job thanked God for the good and the bad.
One of the reasons we get mad at God is because we have the thought that God is here to serve us and to meet our needs. We are taught that if we have faith then everything will work out. Yes, God does meet our needs and yes, God does take care of us but He also has purposes bigger than we can understand. Things will work out for “THE GOOD’ but the verse does not say for our good. (Romans 8:28) We have made Christianity about us and we tend to use God to serve us instead of worshiping Him for who He is. This is why Ray Stedman said in his book “Let God be God”
“God is the almighty, maker of heaven and earth. When we pray to God, we do not command Him. He is not our heavenly bellboy, waiting to serve us when we issue a command. No, God is the great sovereign of the universe. Every living thing in the universe must acknowledge that He is Lord of all. Even rebellious Satan must confess that God is in control; there is nothing Satan can do in heaven or earth except with God’s permission.”(Let God be God, Ray C. Stedman, PG 29)
If you only are worshipping God when things go well then you do not love God but only what He can do. When Jesus started teaching the harder things about Christianity that is when the majority of the people walked away. (John 6:66) Faith is trusting in God not in our circumstances. Faith is trusting God when life does not make sense. Faith is worshiping Him even when your world falls apart.
When a train goes through a tunnel it is dark, you cannot see the light at the other end, and you are not in control. You can either stay seated and trust the conductor or you can bail out. When your world is torn apart the same thing happens because you are unsure when you will get out of the darkness you are experiencing and it is during this time you have to have faith to trust God that He knows what He is doing.
3) Faith believes God owns everything
I came into the world with nothing and I am leaving with nothing.
If I asked you if God owns everything you would say yes but we treat everything He has given us as if it belongs to us. We worship our stuff more than God but the reality is that we will not be taking any of the things with us when we die. The only thing we can take with us is the people that accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. We need to remember that everything we have belongs to the Lord.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away
Job knows that God granted him his children, his riches and even his own life for a time and that God had the right to claim those things back whenever He wanted. Everything that God has loaned us is for us to manage for a time until He calls us home to give an account for how we handled His stuff.(Matthew 25) Even life itself is on loan from God and we will give an account for how we used it. Think about it, God is the creator of life and so for him to call you home is not wrong He is just asking back what He loaned you in the first place. This is very difficult to grasp because we many times think our life is our own. If you have ever loaned someone something you know that when you want it back that they have no right to complain about giving it back
The reason we struggle with this concept is because we want to be in control of our lives. We always see death as unfair but is it really unfair if all life belongs to God? God is aware of every single person who dies every day. 154,000 die world wide each day and God knows each of them by name. Death is a difficult for all of us but it is what Jesus Christ defeated when He rose from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:54-56 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
4) Faith believes God knows what He is doing
Shall we receive good from God and not evil?
Job allows us to see that God knows what He is doing and He has a plan even if we do not understand. Job is acknowledging that everything that has happened to him passed through the loving hands of God. He said this while sitting in ashes which was another sign of grieving. So even while he was grieving the loss of his children he was trusting God.
Jobs wife wanted him to curse God and die but he rebuked her for not trusting God. We must remember that she lost all of her children as well and now she is looking at her husband with sores all over his body. He would have been horrible to look at and her plea to him was probably just to allow God to take you home to end his suffering. Her heart was broken for all she lost but it was still hurting because she had to watch her husband continue to suffer physically. (If you cursed God according to Leviticus 24:10-16 you were to be stoned to death.)
Isaiah 45:9 Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?
We have no right to ask “What are you making God? What are you doing God? Why are you allowing this God? Those are the questions I ask when things do not go my way but not Job, he trusted God with his life and knew that God was doing something that he did not understand.
“This is a hard lesson from some believers to learn, especially if they feel they have been promised health and wealth or have misunderstood that God’s wonderful plan for their lives involves only pleasantness and not trouble.( The New American Commentary, Job, by Robert L. Alden, Pg 67)
The Old Hymn “It is Well with my soul” was written out of tragedy when Spafford, who already lost a child and then a business to a Chicago fire, sent his family ahead of him back to Europe and the boat sank with only his wife surviving. On his way to be with his grieving wife he wrote these words.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
We need to learn to say it is well with my soul. We need to learn that Faith will help us get through the most horrible days of our lives. Faith will keep us focused on God and remind us that everything we have, even our own lives, belong to Him. Faith will help us remember that He will never leave us or forsake us.