why do the righteous suffer book of job
People seem to think that the righteous man suffers only because he has fallen from his righteous standard. That leaves said man to questions his actions, and to wonder if the God he serves really is a God of mercy and grace. Satan twists the suffering of humankind, making us think that God is punishing us for wrongs only He can see. God is not unmerciful, nor does he cause suffering for the undeserving. God allows righteous men to suffer for the enhancement of their faith and the growth of their integrity. To start off, when the righteous suffer, it is God pulling us from our zone of comfort. When faithful children of God suffer, we want to blame God and curse Him for allowing us to be hurt, beaten, and torn apart. This is God pulling the righteous from our comfort zone. When God allowed Satan to steal Job s wealth and strike him, Job was removed from his comfort zone. As C. S. Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity, If you want a comfortable religion, I do not recommend Christianity. God blesses the righteous, certainly, but He never intended for us to be comfortable. God intended for His children to be like Him. Next, when the righteous suffer, it is an opportunity to turn fully to God and depend on Him for rescue. Following God requires humility and dependence on Him. Proverbs 3:5 says, Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. In Job s story, Job doubts God s wisdom and justice, believing that he is simply being unjustly punished by God. Job failed to see the bigger picture. There is always a bigger picture, and sometimes, God does not reveal his plan to the righteous in order to increase our faith and strengthen the bond between God and Man.
Dependence on God is key to fulfilling His purpose for the righteous. Lastly, when the righteous suffer, it is a reminder of the power and glory of God. God knows and sees all; past, present, and future. God does not test His children unfairly. God allows what will be handled, and what will strengthen, but not what will break and bind. Once a righteous man overcomes his suffering, he is obligated to praise God for freedom and the new knowledge and strength grown through his trials. It is in this moment that God s plan is revealed, and man knows God was there all along, giving him all the more reason to be faithful and integrious. This is demonstrated at the end of the book of Job, when God restores Job s riches and health, and Job responds by offering a sacrifice to his redeeming Lord. God allows righteous men to suffer for the enhancement of their faith and the growth of their integrity. God does not abandon His children, but He is a good father. God looks out for us, and we trust Him in return. When the righteous fall, God picks us up, and when we do not understand, He gives wisdom. God does not create suffering for the righteous man, but uses that suffering for the good and betterment of humanity.
The book of Job asks the age-old question: Why do the righteous suffer? This book is sometimes mis-interpreted because some people put too much focus on the first two chapters as well as the final one.
The real meat of the message is found in the larger, more difficult to read section of chapters 3-41. In them, Job complains that God has taken everything away from him even though he is righteous. His friends say that because Job has lost everything, he cannot be righteous. It's not that Job and his friends view God differently. In fact, they both have the same belief: That God directly causes suffering and prosperity. That God brings prosperity upon the righteous and calamity upon the wicked. That those blessings/punishments occur in this life. Many people today have the same theology and doubt God when disasters pile up in their lives. We don't want to minimize the cry of hurting people, but this belief is just plain wrong. Right belief will provide some relief and a way to trust God in the face of disaster. First, chapters 1-2 of Job indicate that God is not the originator of Job's suffering but Satan is. A reading of the entire Bible shows us that, beyond Satan's direct involvement, sinful humanity brings much evil upon others in this world. This is a consequence of Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden but also our own sinfulness. Second, the idea that riches come to the righteous in this life and poverty to the wicked is wrong. We know this from experience. But why doesn't God operate the way we think he should? That's our problem. We think we know best how God should act. God answers Job, though he does not directly answer his question, by coming and speaking to him: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Throughout chapters 38-41, God peppers Job with questions that he cannot answer to prove his main point. It could be summarized as "I'm God, you're not. " Job gets it. He answers God with this: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? ' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. ' I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. " From God's response to Job and Job's response back to God, we learn: We are incapable of understanding God's ways. We should not impose our standards of justice on God. Our joy depends on accepting these facts and repenting of doubting God at any point in our suffering. In the midst of your suffering, know that God sees everything and has a much bigger plan for you than you can see. He is also close at hand to bring comfort and walk through life's difficulties. If he does not change your circumstances, it does not mean that he is punishing you or neglecting you. Job did not doubt God's goodness while he questioned him. Let that be our example. Bob Caldwell is Theologian-in Residence at Network 211
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