Suffering -- Through Job's Perspective

I often think about the way people handle tragedy. What do people do when they experience loss, sickness, or misfortune? In today’s times, we’re bombarded with an influx of tragedy. And with these events come an overabundance of opinions.

Just flip to any major news station: partisan opinions, religious opinions, subject-matter expert opinions. The rate at which we’re provided with new conspiracies, ideas, thoughts, and explanations for tragedy can be confusing. Whether you’re someone established in your faith, or just starting to seek the Lord, it’s hard to navigate the “Why is this happening?” and “What does this mean?”

Today, I present you with the story of Job. When I read this passage, I see so much of our 21st century society represented. Cliff Notes version: Job’s “down on his luck.” Satan takes away his animals, children, and home, consecutively. He’s stripped of all he holds dear, and breaks out with leprosy. On top of all this, his friends and family offer different opinions as to why Job’s been afflicted with suffering, and Job ponders openly about God’s will in his trials.

In the thick of their grief, his friends provide a variety of skewed causes for Job’s pain...his sin caused God to punish him, his children’s sins were too great, and they even question the Lord’s wisdom.

If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who sees everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?
— Job 7:20

I feel like Job speaks for us all here—did I do something for God to allow me (or others) to suffer? Human nature creates in us a desire to determine the causes of pain. Job and his friends are no different.

Though through all their opinions, the Lord proves his provision, even if it’s not blatantly stated.

The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore people revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?
— Job 37: 23 -24

In his frustration and determination to understand his plight, Job tries to elevate his wisdom, comparing it to the Lord’s. This same concept rings true today—it’s particularly noticeable as we enter the election year. I’m sure you’ve seen countless politicians, and scientists, and psychiatrists list off all the speculated reasons for tragedy X, Y, and Z. But God tells us—and Job—that the origins of trials are not always revealed to his children.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: ‘Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?’
— Job 38: 1 – 2

The Lord then provides Job with an epic monologue of the intricacies of life. Think along the lines of, “calling the ocean tides”, and “allowing birds to fly.”

So what does all this mean? Don’t let the opinions of others or your own pride allow you to doubt God’s provision, even in hard times. The mind of God is so vast, so far beyond our understanding. While we will probably never know the reasons behind suffering, we do know that God works for the good of his people and sent His son to ultimately to save the world. We can rest assured in that!