1. Peace in Your Suffering: Job
Job didn’t understand the reason for his suffering, but he learned to trust God when he saw God’s power and control over all things.
Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” -Job 1:20-21
The book of Job wrestles with the question, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to innocent people?” It begins with a scene in heaven, and we watch as God points out his servant Job to Satan, commending Job’s righteousness. Satan, however, accuses Job, claiming he only loves God because his life is easy. In response, God permits Satan to inflict suffering in Job’s life to test his faith and character.
In a series of devastating blows, Job loses his livestock, then his servants, then even his children, and finally his health. Job at first responds by worshiping God, but as the suffering continues, he begins to question God. Job asserts that a world in which the innocent suffer is proof of an unfair God. Three friends who have come to be with Job in his suffering counter this argument, claiming that Job must have done something bad to deserve his suffering.
However, both arguments are wrong. Job is innocent, but this does not make God unjust. Rather, out of love, God is using Job’s suffering to refine his faith.
After Job and his friends express their opinions and accusations, God himself confronts Job. God never directly addresses Job’s questions; instead, he questions Job. He says, “Where were you when I laid down the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding…Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, And made the dawn know its place?...Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or do you establish their rule over the earth?” God goes on in this manner, listing question upon question, pointing out all the things in the world outside Job’s control and beyond his comprehension.
In doing so, God is suggesting that maybe the reason for Job’s suffering is beyond his comprehension as well. So, Job never gets his question answered about why God allowed him to suffer, but after seeing the sovereign power and superior wisdom of his Creator over creation, Job’s perspective is reframed. He repents and trusts God again.
Job’s story reveals that we do not serve a score-keeping God who operates within our degree of comprehension. Instead of trying to figure out the reason for our suffering, we can instead fix our eyes on God and his infinite power and wisdom. God’s ways are above our ways, and we can’t always understand his plan.
When hard things happen to you, do you ever question if God’s power is directed by love?
When you’re doubting God’s love, look at Jesus’s life: He did not stand aloof and apathetic to our suffering but entered into our pain himself. Jesus came to Earth as a man and then demonstrated his love for us in sacrificing his life! This was the greatest act of undeserved suffering. Christ lived a perfect life, yet he endured humiliating torture, a brutal crucifixion, and worst of all, separation from his father in order that suffering, sin and death, would not have the final word for your life. When you suffer, remember this unmerited love.
Your suffering doesn’t disprove Christ’s love; his suffering proves it.
God’s grip on you is strong and secure. All you have to do is go to him. He will embrace you in his deepest being and never let you go.
RESPOND:Take a moment to bring God the doubts and fears you experience in times of suffering.