Why does God allow us to suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is the relationship between God, suffering, and sin? These are some of the most difficult questions raised about and against Christianity.
The book of Job takes them head-on but may not give us the answers we want. The majority of Job shows us so many of the wrong ways to explain why we suffer and what God's role is in it. The main answer Job does provide is that, in suffering, God is doing something beyond what our minds and logic can grasp. While we cannot get all the answers we want to why we suffer, Job tells us that God is worth trusting through it.
Ultimately, Job points us to Jesus. Job's friends tried to blame Job for suffering, while Job eventually ends up blaming God. Neither solutions are correct. Nevertheless, even though we are to blame for much of the suffering we and others experience because of our sin, Jesus takes the blame for it on the cross. Jesus suffered, taking the pain and blame our sins deserved, to show us that God is truly doing something through suffering that we cannot comprehend. He saved the world by suffering on the cross.
At a Glance
NIV Bible Job Introduction
The wisdom of Proverbs describes how godly character generally leads to success. Ecclesiastes tempers this, warning that rewards are not guaranteed, since a kind of “crookedness” has come into our world. The book of Job goes further, exploring how righteous people sometimes suffer. The book of Job uses a common literary device from the wisdom traditions of the ancient world: an extended conversation based on poetic speeches.
Job is introduced as a good man. But “the adversary” (satan in Hebrew) points out an apparent problem in God’s moral oversight of the universe. If goodness is always rewarded, how can we know if it’s born from love of God or desire for gain? So God allows the adversary to bring suffering into Job’s life.
Job doesn’t curse God as the adversary predicted but ends up debating with three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Their overly rigid view of the moral universe convinces them that Job’s own wrongdoing has caused his suffering. A young man Elihu joins the conversation later, while Job continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong and deserves a hearing before God.
Finally, God reveals the power and wisdom shown in his oversight of creation. Job then humbly admits his own limited understanding. When God rebukes Job’s three friends, we see they are guilty of a far worse assumption than Job. In the end God blesses Job with twice as much as he had before. The book warns us to avoid reducing God’s moral rule to easy formulas.
2016 Job Series (Sundays)
|Satan & Suffering
|Friends & Suffering
|God & Suffering
|My Life & Suffering