The Truth About Human Suffering – Powerful Lessons from the Book of Job
By: Rock Kitaro
Date: May 20, 2018
Greetings my friends,
In light of recent (the last few years) events, I felt compelled to share this.
1. There are matters going on in heaven with God that believers know nothing about, yet it affects our lives.
2. Even the best effort at explaining the issue can be useless without the scriptures.
3. God’s People do suffer. Bad things happen all the time to good people, thus, one cannot judge a person’s spirituality by his painful circumstances, or his success.
4. Even though God seems far away, perseverance in faith is a most noble virtue since God is good and one can safely leave his life in His hands.
5. The believer in the midst of suffering should not abandon God, but draw near to Him so out of fellowship, comfort can come.
6. Suffering may be intense, but it will ultimately end for the righteous and God will bless abundantly.
These are the six fundamental truths about the Book of Job taken from the MacArthur Study Bible. Last week I started re-reading Job and then last Friday that tragic school shooting from Santa Fe, Texas happened. I know it’s becoming somewhat of a twisted tradition for people to use such tragedies to either push their agenda, virtue signal, or grandstand, making it all about them instead of the victims or the surviving family members.
Even in reading this, my words, here and now, you may choose to see that I’m doing the same. Dare I ask, please curb all cynicism if for just a moment. Notice how I didn’t even post a picture of the shooting as click-bait or a close-up of a grief-stricken loved one just to provoke an emotional reaction from you. If by the end of this you think I’m nothing but a peddler trying to cash in on someone’s tragedy to look good in someone’s eyes (I’m a loner), I accept that as a failure on my part for not driving home the message, the main focus of this post.
Let’s start with whom Job was.
Job was a man blameless and upright who fear God and turned away from evil. He was considered well known in the land of Uz, this is east of Canaan, somewhere north of the Arabian desert. The time or era of his existence was considered around the same or possibly before Abraham uprooted and left for the land flowing with milk and honey. So, you have to think, it was sometime after the great flood. No doubt generations after Noah’s sons repopulated the earth and even after the people were dispersed following their attempt to build the tower of Babel.
Job’s wealth was measured not by gold or money. Not by land. But by his livestock. The scriptures say he owned some 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He must have had a great amount of servants working for him to maintain such wealth.
On top of that, Job’s true blessings were in the form of his ten grown children. He had seven sons and three daughters and loved them immensely. He loved them so much that he’d offer burnt sacrifices to God on their behalf just on the mere chance that his children had sinned even in their hearts. This shows how considerate and thoughtful he was. Job was a good father.
In terms of popularity through the eyes of most humans, Job would be like the Bill Gates of today’s time. Famous, rich, and perceptibly without a care in the world.
In the first chapter of the Book of Job, God held council with his angels in heaven. Satan, the Adversary, was among them. In verse 8, God says to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Beginning in verse 9, Satan answered, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will curse you to your face.”
God replied in verse 12, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.”
Here we see that God gave Satan permission to inflict Job with hardships. And no doubt, haughty and proud following his success of corrupting Adam and Eve, Satan set out full of confidence that he could sway Job to curse God to his face.
Before we go into the “why,” lets consider what happened. Mind you, this is just the first chapter of over forty.
In this very first chapter of Job, after holding conference with God, Satan stripped Job of his livestock via death through marauders, robbers, and fire from the sky. That’s over 11,000 animals under Job’s possession suddenly gone. The scriptures say that this happened all in one day. That’s right. In verses 13-19, the scriptures tell us that only four servants rushed in to tell him of the tragedy, one right after the other.
And worse, was when Job learned that while his children were visiting his oldest son’s house, a great wind came and toppled the four corners of the house to kill them all. All ten of his children. Dead.
In a single day, Job lost nearly everything. He was rich, considered successful in the eyes of the world. Considered moral, flawless, and upright by all who knew him. Yet he, even he, was forced into suffering. In verse 20, it says he “tore at his robe and shaved his head and fell to the ground.”
But did he curse God? Did he wave his fists at the sky and scream “WHHHYYY!!!!”
The scriptures tell us in verse 21 that Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In verse 22 it says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
All of this happens in the very first chapter of the Book of Job.
I can’t wait to continue reading because I know what happens and need ever to be reminded. Further into the Book of Job, after he is stricken with leprosy and cast out by society, three of his so-called friends approach him and try to get him abandon his faith in God. And dude…I’m telling you their arguments are convincing. When I read them, if you’d like, I can post the tactics they use. Because I think a lot of their tactics are still being used today by Atheists and Apostates alike.
But going back to that question of “why” for a moment. I have to point out something all true believers should keep in mind. This is a hard pill to swallow, but I don’t think it is if your heart isn’t corrupted by this society.
God does not owe us anything.
Just take a moment and really consider that. I know I did when I first read the statement. For, like you, I too see God as our loving heavenly father. And as we all know, fathers do owe their children something. But still…God is the Grand Creator. One of my favorite lines in the Book of Job later on is when he tells Job in 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
God does not owe us anything.
Not an apology. Not a reason. Not an explanation. He doesn’t owe us safety or security. He doesn’t owe us love or friendship. He doesn’t need our love nor our obedience. He requires them. But doesn’t need it. In the Old Testament there were so many times where God was about ready to just wipe out the ungrateful Israelites who yet grumbled despite having witnessed with their own two eyes the supernatural events, his awesome power manifested in the form of dark clouds and fire. And if it wasn’t for Moses pleading on their behalf, reminding him of the Abrahamic Covenant…
God does not owe us anything.
And if you really take those words to heart. Consider what that means, I think you’ll come to have a greater understanding and an appreciation for God’s grace, generosity, and mercy. Everything he does for us is what he chooses to do. Not because he owes us or we’re entitled to it.
Two great examples of this is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, which he didn’t have to do. And I think, most relatable to the theme of Job, is the gift of the Bible. We have the knowledge, the answers that people thousands of years ago did not have. It was easier for them to be led astray because they didn’t have the internet or Google where they could fact-check. Or in the case of us Christians, a source where it gives us the truth to guard against false prophets and tactics of wicked manipulation.
Meanwhile, Job had absolutely no idea why he was made to suffer such heartbreak, such tragedy, such hardships. He had no clue about Satan’s endeavor to get him to curse God. Even when God talks to Job in the later chapters, he offers Job explanation. Yet, by Job’s example he teaches us what we should all do. And this is the main message the Book of Job drives home.
“In the end, the lesson learned was that one may never know the specific reason for his suffering; but one must trust in Sovereign God. That is the real answer to suffering.” – MacArthur Study Bible.
Bad things will continue to happen until the end of this wicked system of things. Jesus will return and wash away all wickedness from this Earth. If you don’t believe this then it’s understandable, the frustration and confusion, the anger and outrage, the questions of “WHEN WILL IT END?” or “WHY DO THESE THINGS KEEP HAPPENING?” will forever persist.
And as we all know, suffering for Job does end. And God blesses him abundantly with more than he lost and ten more children after the ordeal was complete.
But also, keep in mind that even though Job received great blessings after the ordeal, even still, this isn’t owed to us. Mind you, the main reason why Satan thought to challenge God when it came to Job’s devotion was because Satan believed it was due to a question we should all ask ourselves in the depths of our hearts. “Do we serve God with pure motives or are we only in it as long as the blessings flow?”
IF GOD REALLY LOVED US, HE WOULDN’T ALLOW US TO SUFFER!!!
IF GOD EXISTED, HE WOULDN’T ALLOW GOOD PEOPLE TO SUFFER!!!
GOD DOESN’T EXIST BECAUSE IF HE DID, HE WOULD HAVE ANSWERED MY PRAYERS!!!
About three years ago, I used to hear those statements all the time by associates and people around the world from the forums I’d contribute to. I knew from my Christian foundation why bad things were happening and why they would continue to happen. But that knowledge was inherited or passed down to me. Meaning, it’s just what I was told. I never took the time to actually read what the Bible has to say on such matters. Thus, when I hear the emotional outcry following some national disaster or tragedy, I’d find my own doubts bubbling to surface, my faith slipping on thin ice.
That’s when I picked up the Bible. I opened the very first page and started to read. I read one to three chapters a night depending on the length and after two years, I finished reading the whole book. I can’t tell you how much it’s changed my life for good. However, I confess, one perceived side-effect about knowing the truth is that you can be seen as somewhat callous when bad things happen. You’re not shocked or terribly surprised by what’s happening.
And while you see others around you in their grief, their demands for change, their finger-pointing and a human need for justice…you can’t help but feel thankful that you know the truth. Our Grand Creator. The God of Armies. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jehovah. Our heavenly father. Turn to him. Put your faith in him. Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven always.