Suffering abounds in our world. No one likes it. Many want to blame it on God. But who has suffered more than Job?
We’ve noted that the book of Job is a treatise on many things. The chief subject is suffering.
Questions asked by Job, his wife, his friends and even God are still asked today. Why is this happening? What did I do to deserve this? Why is God allowing this? If God is real, why doesn’t He stop suffering?
What Job Suffered
- The Loss of his wealth. In a single day, Job’s working animals and camels were stolen, his sheep were burned up and all of his hired helpers were killed.
- The Grief of Death. Job had no sooner learned of his great poverty, when a servant arrived to tell him about a terrible storm. Wind had destroyed his son’s house where all ten of his children were eating dinner, and every one of his children perished.
- Affliction of his flesh. Later, Job’s entire body was covered in boils. Some sources state this might be elephantitis, a condition where the body swells and the pain is horrific.
- Enmity with his wife. We’ll discuss this more next week, but after everything that happened to him, Job’s wife struck out at him. She suffered all these losses with him, but her faith failed her. She wanted to die, and she tried to convince Job to curse God so God would grant her wish.
- Loss of respect of his friends. As discussed last week, Job’s friends showed up to mourn with him. Instead, they thrust false accusations at him, taunting him to just admit his sins so God would stop afflicting him.
Reasons Job Suffered
The beauty of this story is in Job 1:8. Satan shows up to accuse God’s children and God asks him, “Have you considered my servant Job?”
God actually brags about Job to Satan. Can you imagine it? This is what He said about Job: 1) no one else is like him; 2) he is perfect and upright; 3) he fears God and 4) he avoids evil.
If God thought so highly of Job, why did He allow all these horrible things to happen to him? Not only did He allow them, He encouraged Satan to test Job.
Why would a loving God do that?
- To silence Satan. Satan was positive he could get Job to fail in his godly walk. But no matter how hard things got for him, Job didn’t stop trusting in God. When we walk in the power of the Lord, Satan is defeated (1 John 4:4).
- To reveal Himself to Job. Job believed in God’s goodness, but he didn’t understand God’s greatness until he’d walked through the fire of trials (Job 42:5).
- To reveal the truth of Job’s character. Job was a humble man. We’d say he was a perfect example of what a Christian should be – before his trials. Afterward, Job was more humble, more grateful and more amazed by God. Faith is refined in times of suffering (1 Peter 1:7-8).
- To teach Job’s friends not to judge. This is a lesson we still need to learn today. We aren’t all-knowing. Job’s friends were ignorant of God’s thoughts about Job’s lifestyle. They assumed bad things happened because Job was a sinner, when in reality they happened because Job was amazingly faithful to God. We would be wise to keep our condemnation to ourselves when we see hardship and hurt in someone’s life, even if we see them living in flagrant sin. We are not judges; only God has that right (Romans 14:10).
- To teach Job to pray for his critics. The structure of Job 42:10 makes it sound like Job’s problems didn’t end UNTIL he prayed for his friends. “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.” We are commanded to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44).
- To demonstrate the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If Job could suffer all he did and still say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21)” who are we to doubt God’s sovereignty? Remember that in the end, God blessed Job with twice as much as he had before the trials.
Next time you’re suffering, remember the story of Job. If you’re living outside God’s will, repent and return. Take heart if things don’t get better right away. If Job could pass his test of faith, you can too.
Next Week: Grief and Marriage: Are you like Job’s Wife?