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Lessons from the Suffering of Job

Children never tire of asking why. Yet the question produces a bitter taste the older we get. Children wonder about everything; adults wonder about suffering. We notice that the world seems to run by a system of cause and effect, yet there are some effects for which we can’t find a clear cause, and some causes that don’t lead to the expected effects.
We would expect Job’s wealth and family to give him a very happy life and, for while, they did. But the loss and pain he experience shock us. The first two chapters of his story are more than we can bear. To those so quick to ask why the smallest misfortune, Job’s faithfulness seems incredible. But even Job has something to learn. We can lean with him.
Our age of ‘instant’ everything has caused us to lose the ability to wait. We expect to learn patience instantly, and in our hurry, we miss the contradiction. Of all that we want now, relief from pain is at the top of our list. We want an instant cure for everything from toothaches to heartbreaks.
Although some pains have been cured, we still live in a world where many people suffer. Job was not expecting instant answers for the intense emotional and physical pain he endured. But in the end, what broke Job’s patience was not the suffering, but not knowing why he suffered.
When Job expressed his frustration, his friends were ready with their answers. They believed that the law of cause and effect applied to all people’s experiences. Their view of life boiled down to this: Good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. Because of this, they felt their role was to help Job admit to whatever sin was causing his suffering.
Job actually looked at life almost the same way as his friends. What he couldn’t understand was why he was suffering so much when he was sure he had done nothing to deserve such punishment. The last friend, Elihu, did offer another explanation for the pain by pointing out that God might be allowing it to purify Job. But this was only partly helpful.
When God finally spoke, he didn’t offer Job an answer. Instead, he drove home the point that it is better to know God than to know answers.
Often we suffer consequences for the bad decisions and actions. Job’s willingness to repent and confess known wrongs is a good guideline for us. Sometimes suffering shapes us for special service to others. Sometimes suffering is an attack by Satan on our lives. And sometimes we don’t know why we suffer. At those times, are we willing to trust God in spite of unanswered questions?
Job’s story is told in the book of Job. He is also referred to in Ezekiel 14:14,20 and James 5:10-11

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August 19, 2013 - Posted by | SETTING THE NEWS AGENDA

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