Enduring Suffering

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I tend to avoid the book of Job even though at times I readily identify with his struggles and questions. While it seems few will experience the magnitude of loss that Job experienced, most of us have asked God why or questioned the Lord’s purposes in the midst of suffering and devastation.

I can’t understand why the Adversary is given so much leeway to bring destruction in the life of one of God’s dearly beloved children. Satan’s MO has always been to kill steal and destroy, yet he cannot act without God’s permission. He must stay within the limits God sets. The book of Job clearly reveals God’s sovereignty.

Although Job lost his 10 children and every possession, he never lost the favor of God. Job did not displease God. However, until the end of the book, God remains silent. Over the years, I have found my struggles are intensified when God hides his face and his voice isn’t heard.

After reading, I have so many questions and very few conclusions. I am still unsure how to help those who are hurting. However, here are a few observations many of which are based on what Job’s friends did wrong.

Wealth is not a protection from tragedy.

Avoid temptation to judge a person experiencing misfortune suggesting it was something they did.

When someone is suffering greatly, words may not penetrate the shroud of grief. Listening is far more valuable than advice or parroting platitudes.

In Job Chapter 1-2, God said that Job was blameless, upright, feared God, turned from evil and held fast to his integrity. In Chapters 7,9, and 10 Job experiences anguish of spirit, bitterness of soul, emptiness, futility, loathes his life and wishes he had never been born.  Having these feelings was the result of intense suffering not a lack of faith. Note to self: Don’t beat myself up if I have these feelings seemingly contrary to how the church portrays a victorious faith-filled believer.

God’s ways are so far above our comprehension that we cannot perceive all God is doing in the heavenly places.

Finally, in Chapter 38, God answered Job. Instead of explaining why all of this has happened, God questions Job. Was Job there when God laid the foundation of the earth? The Lord asks Job if he ever commanded the morning or does he know when a mountain goat gives birth? Can Job send forth lightning or has he entered the storehouses of snow? I counted 60! questions that the Lord asked Job, and Job did not have the wisdom or power to accomplish even one of the mighty feats of God.

God’s anger burned against Job’s friends because they had not spoken what was right about God. God, however, was not angry with Job’s questions in the midst of pain. The Lord wanted Job to acknowledge His unfathomable greatness. Job repented recognizing God’s ways were too wonderful for him to understand and no purpose of His can be thwarted. 

In the final chapter, God restored the fortunes of Job.  Whether here or in eternity, the Lord will restore everything the adversary or this fallen world has taken from us.

Even though my trials pale in comparison, I desire the faith that Job proclaimed in 13:15, “Even though He slay me, I will trust him.”  Similarly, I long for the result Job anticipated in 23:10, “When He has tried me, I will come out as gold.”  Until my faith becomes sight, my best response when questions overshadow what I understand is to Be Still and Know He is God.

Photo by Mohan Reddy Atalu on Pexels.com

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