In these first few weeks of January 2011, I have read and listened to many messages referencing suffering and/or struggles. This topic is surely a heavy one upon the body of Christ at this moment. Undoubtedly, at some point in our own personal lives, suffering or struggles have fallen as heavy yokes upon our shoulders. Maybe in some way, God is preparing the body for a larger struggle about to take place. Let us pray for Christ’s beloved.
Oh great, (sigh), it’s Job
I ended 2010 and began 2011 reading in Job, a book about suffering. For me, having recently suffered emotionally for about eight months, I didn’t exactly leap for joy in coming up to read this book. In my flesh I thought, I’ve had enough suffering for myself this past year, I don’t want to have to read about it too! I didn’t want anymore suffering! My mind and heart was ready for restoration and I surely didn’t want to start 2011 in Job, reading about suffering! But seeing as Job was next in my chronological reading, I hesitatingly started reading.
Synopsis on Job
For those of you who may not be familiar with the book of Job, here is a quick synopsis: In chapters 1 and 2, we learn that Job was a Godly man with much wealth and stature. Upon a request from Satan to God, Satan was allowed to test Job’s faith. You see, Satan thought that the only reason Job worshiped God was because God had given him much wealth and stature. Satan thought that if he took all of Job’s wealth and stature away, that Job would then surely curse God. So, God allowed Satan to test Job, killing and destroying all the things that brought prosperity to Job. Then for the next 30+ chapters, there are speeches back and forth between Job and his wise friends. They discuss back and forth the reasons for Job’s suffering. Job’s friends think that Job is suffering because of unconfessed sin. They say that God only punishes the wicked, yet Job responded back to them that he didn’t have unconfessed sin. Job’s friends considered Job to be stubborn for not admitting his supposed wrongfulness. Finally, the last five chapters are between God and Job. Job finally hears from God. God gives Job no answer to his suffering other than He is sovereign. Job then gives God reverence and fear (respect). And in the end, God restores Job’s wealth and stature.
Reading through Job, chapter after chapter, the friends argue with Job about the cause for his suffering. At some points, I thought … yes, the friends are right. Or, yes, that’s what it must be. But in reality, their answers were not full truths and they did not apply to Job. I remember thinking, why are there so many chapters on the nonsense of the so-called “wise friends?” Why not just get to the stuff that God has to say about the matter? My answer for this is: because it is reflective of how we ourselves battle suffering. We question God and go to our friend’s comfort and advice. We become impatient in wanting to hear from God and we don’t show Him reverence and fear.
The book of Job taught me a lot about the thoughts of suffering:
1) The things that cause our suffering happen quickly without much warning.
2) Although we want to hear from God, sometimes we don’t get an answer from Him, so we turn to the advice of friends.
3) Reading the responses of Job’s friends revealed to me my own false thoughts on the causes of suffering.
4) Wait for God’s answer.
5) God will restore!
As I read about the advice of Job’s friends, I mostly cared to really read God’s answer at the end. Now think with me … what if, in our own personal lives, we would actually do that? Instead of turning to our friends, we respect God and wait to hear what He has to say about the matter.
As we suffer, do we go to our friends for comfort and answers, or do we turn to God? No doubt, in listening to our friends, as Job did, some truth is revealed. But often times, wisdom and understanding is left out and false advice is given. We go back and forth with our friends, but no resolve is found. Yes, some suffering is because of sin in our lives, but not all suffering is from the root of sin, as was in Job’s case. Today, maybe this is illustrated best in trying to understand why a young child suffers in sickness, or why natural tragedy such as an earthquake strikes innocent people.
So I write this to myself and to you, in the midst of our suffering and struggle, let’s remember that God is the One with the answer. He is the Sovereign One. Let us remember that despite our circumstance, Daddy deserves our full reverence, respect and trust. We may want answers to why things happen to us, but because God is God, we do not always know the answer to our why questions. Praise God that He restored Job! And, let us praise God who will also restore us from our suffering! Why we suffer is not always understood , but in the end, glory is always given to God. Amen!!
Be blessed by the reflection of His Word as we grow to be filled by Him.