After a long-drawn-out and somewhat futile debate between Job and his friends concerning the cause and meaning of Job’s horrible suffering, God finally spoke to Job.
One of the most remarkable things in the book of Job is that when God does finally speak He says nothing about Job’s suffering or about human suffering in general. He doesn’t even touch the subject. Instead, in chapters 38-41, God reminds Job of His creative power as seen in the natural world including outer space, the animals, the earth’s environment, etc.
Having “seen” God for himself Job confessed, “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (42:2).
The book of Job teaches us that God does not always reward good or punish evil in this life. Really bad things can happen to really good people. God will however certainly make all things right in the next life.
How can the lesson Job learned about God (42:2) comfort and strengthen us when trouble comes our way?
Filed under Job, suffering
Before His trials began Job is described as a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil (1:1). In the immediate aftermath of the first round of his sufferings the Bible says “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (1:22).
In the latter chapters God will rebuke him and he will repent: “Behold, I am vile” (40:4), “I repent in dust and ashes” (42:6).
As the book plays out Job gives what he calls “free course” to his complaints (10:1). Consider some of the things he said about God:
- Why do You hide Your face, And regard me as Your enemy? (13:24)
- I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces; He has set me up for His target, His archers surround me. He pierces my heart and does not pity (16:12-14).
- As God lives, who has taken away my justice, And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter (Job 27:2).
- But You have become cruel to me; With the strength of Your hand You oppose me (Job 30:21).
Can you imagine saying something like that about God? Why do you think Job said these things? Could this be Job’s sin? Is there anything about they way he says these things that shows he still has faith in God?
As Job deals with his suffering he seems strong in his faith in God. “Though He slay me I will trust in Him (13:15). This is in spite of the fact that he believed God was responsible for his sufferings (that’s a point of discussion: who to blame God or Satan? In 12:9 Job seems to place the responsibility on God: “the hand of the LORD has done this”).
Someone said Job felt his sufferings were “an attack by God for some unknown reason”. If he knew the reason for his trials, or if we know the reason for ours, (if there is one), it might make it easier to bear.
Question: What are some of the reasons God may allow us to experience sufferings? Consider: James 1:3, James 1:12, John 9:1-4, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, John 15:2.
Kind of a trick question: In light of what we studied Sunday morning (Job 1 and 2) which of these is the right time to say “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)?
- When your plans for the day are ruined by unexpected circumstances.
- When someone surrenders their life to Jesus.
- When your car breaks down.
- When an unexpected check arrives in the mail.
- When you get the job you were hoping for.
- When you or a loved one is injured in a car accident.
- When a couple has a baby.
- When the Doctor says you have cancer.
- When the Doctor says your cancer is in remission.
- All of the above.
Last Sunday we looked at Job 3. Job’s losses are recorded in chapters 1 and 2. In chapter 1 he lost his possessions, servants, and his seven sons and three daughters. In chapter 2 he lost his own health. We noted his remarkably strong and courageous initial response – he expressed his grief, but he kept his faith in God: “the Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21).
In chapter 3, some time has passed and his tone has changed. Chapter 3 records him crying out to God. 7 times he asks “why?”. “Why was I born?” Why can’t I just die? We are not suggesting he lost his faith, but he seems to be breaking down and is overwhelmed by his anguish.
One point we considered is that godly people don’t always just “sing and be happy”. His losses were fearfully painful and we see here very real anguish expressed by a very godly man.
We also thought about how when someone suffers great loss, the initial responses are sometimes very brave. The first few days they are occupied with decisions and are surrounded by friends, and may simply be in a state of shock. Job 3 made us think of how sometime later, after a funeral, when everyone is gone, reality begins to settle in. Those can be the toughest days.
What can we learn from Job’s very real grief in chapter 3, about how we can help those who are suffering?
Filed under Grief, Job, Trials