“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:10-11)
Job’s story is not an unfamiliar one. It is the story of why. Why would God allow/cause suffering? Why won’t God make the pain go away? Where is God in the midst of all this pain? Job’s life was a good life. He had family and friends and a good job. God had granted him a seemingly unshakeable faith—that is, until Satan came along and tested God. He told God that if Job’s blessings were removed, then Job would curse God and reject his faith. God allowed Satan to pretty much do everything to Job but kill him. Job, from the pit of despair, wanted answers: “Why would you allow this, oh Lord!?” Job, it seems, was putting God on trial!
Job may be the oldest book in the whole Bible, which means that this questioning of God is nothing new. Job may be one of the first to ask why of God, and he is certainly not the last. In fact, the very same cry is found on the lips of our dying Lord while hanging on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; cf. Ps. 22:1). Jesus, like Job and perhaps like you, received no immediate answer.
We desperately want to know why. Why do we suffer? Why is there evil in the world? Why would a good God not intervene? But have you considered that maybe we are not meant to know why? Ask yourself, “Even if I knew why, would it solve my problems?” Perhaps if God wanted us to know why, He would have told us. Perhaps He hasn’t told us because He knows better.
Though we may not get the answer to the why of forsakenness, God does not remain silent. The response we receive is far better than we could ever hope or imagine!
We desperately want to know why. Why do we suffer? Why is there evil in the world? Why would a good God not intervene?
Job attempts to put God on trial when suddenly, God shows up! God comes to Job and turns the tables on him: “Brace yourself like a man, I will question you, and you shall answer me!” (Job 38:3). God goes on to show Job that there are just some things beyond our comprehension. Job repents and the Lord has mercy on Job. “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (Job 42:12). Job went through hell and cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed up and gave the gift of a new life.
This is a picture of what is accomplished for us through Christ on the cross. He is forsaken by God, taking all our sin and shame away, and three days later, He rose again to eternal life. With that resurrection, He promises that He will raise us with Him on the last day.
We will face suffering, pain, and death in this life. Why? Who knows? But God shows up in Christ Jesus for you! That means our suffering does not lead to eternal death or God forsakenness, for Christ is risen for you! So, though we may never get at the reasons for our pain, the one thing we do know for certain is that, in Christ, we are redeemed, and He is making all things right. We can’t control how the Judge will reach His verdict, but the Judge who is in control forgives! As we await the imminent return of Christ, we do so in great anticipation, knowing that God’s verdict has been declared on the cross. We have been judged forgiven.
Repent: Heavenly Father, your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. Forgive me for not trusting your thoughts or your ways. Teach me to trust in you through my trials and struggles by keeping my eyes fixed on your Son Jesus who endured the cross for me and will raise me up with Him on the last day. Give me the perseverance of Job. AMEN.
Respond: Pray today for all those suffering from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and so on. Ask the Lord how you might help the people who suffer in such tragedies.
Receive: Though the Lord has not given you all the answers to your questions, He has given you the promise of the resurrection. What you are facing will be made right through the blood of the Lamb. So that, one day, when He returns, you will rise and sing and rejoice! Your life, like this world that is so wrecked in sin, will be made new. Already you have been declared righteous for Christ’s sake, and one day, after your skin has been thus destroyed, you will rise and, in your flesh, you will see God!