Part 19 – What the Book of Job Teaches Us About Suffering
As we come to the end of Job we see that after Job repented of his arrogance and self-righteousness, the Lord rebuked the friends for speaking wrongly about the Lord, and commended Job for speaking correctly. The Lord then told the friends to bring a sacrifice to Job and Job would then mediate on their behalf, and the Lord forgave them.
The Lord blessed job with twice as much as he had before and gave him three daughters and seven sons (which certainly weren’t meant to ‘replace’ those that he lost, but rather just a sign of blessing and favor). Job also lived another 140 years and died a blessed man. None of these blessings were ‘rewards’ but were all from God’s grace.
We then looked at six areas or reasons for suffering that were depicted in the Book of Job, and the main point is that all of these reasons are true and may or may not be applicable at any given time in our lives. The six are:
- The Adversary/devil: Although the devil is and can be involved in provoking suffering in the world, he is not the sole source of conflict, and anything he does must be affirmed by the providence and sovereignty of God Almighty.
- Mystery: Job knew that God was sovereign (He gives and takes), but Job didn’t know exactly why he was suffering, so it was a mystery to him. Often our suffering will seem to be without reason, and although it may remain as a mystery, there is always a divine purpose. At times like this we are to hold especially tight to the Lord and trust His sovereign rule, His wisdom, and His love for us.
- Retributive – this was the view of the three friends who felt that because Job was suffering greatly, then he was obviously sinning greatly. This attitude believes that all suffering is caused by sin. It is true that we may suffer the consequences of our sin (abusing our bodies, reckless driving), but not all suffering is caused by sin, as we clearly see in the life or situation of Job.
- Purifying effects of suffering – this was the view of Elihu, who believed that Job was sinning because of his suffering, not the other way around. We don’t grow in this life unless we face trials – as James 1:2-4 makes very clear. So at times suffering comes our way in order to teach us, mold us, break us, and form us into the image of Christ.
- The effects of living in a fallen world – sometimes we suffer because of the sins of others (abused, drunk driving, poor decisions on the part of others), and although this is unfortunate, the Lord has still promised to turn all things into good for His children. The greatest example is the death of Jesus: The most heinous crime in all of creation is turned into the greatest good – the saving of many.
- God’s sovereign purposes – this connects back to the mystery of suffering – and here is where we need to trust that the Lord is: completely sovereign; infinite in His wisdom; and perfect in His love towards us. We may not understand all that goes on in our life, but the Lord can be trusted.