The question “Why?” is always asked by people about suffering. Sometimes it seems worse to watch a loved one suffer and be helpless to do anything than to be the one who is suffering. Job’s friends came to see him as they heard he was going through a bad time. ‘Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No-one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was’ ().2:13 Job
Eventually Job’s friends concluded it must be Job’s fault and, despite his defence of himself, they abused him spiritually. They accused him of cruelty to others and of telling lies to them. They judged him severely and said God would punish him.
We are given the true story of Job’s character in the first verse of the book of Job, and so we know the injustice of their pronouncements. ‘In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil’ (Job 1:1).
No one seemed to be on Job’s side. In his worst moments he struggled to have faith that God was on his side. He just wanted to die. He never knew, as we do, that he was under spiritual attack from Satan. ‘Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure,’ Job 3:20.
I am so glad that he was vindicated by God in the last chapter of the book. His acts of kindness towards others had not gone unnoticed by God. They were valued and rewarded after the suffering ended. His friends were corrected and rebuked by God.
Although he was declared blameless, Job was not perfect, as only Jesus was without sin and perfect in His relationship to God the Father. When he had an encounter with God Himself, Job was full of repentance and realised he had believed wrong things about God. He humbled himself and asked for forgiveness. God accepted his repentance and commissioned him to be a priest to his friends. He was given the privilege of ministering to them for the forgiveness of their sins. There was a way back to blessing on his life. He had come through a massive trial of his faith.
There is a lot to learn about life from the book of Job. Suffering is universal and affects everyone of us. Some turn towards God in times of suffering, while others turn away from Him. It does not solve the mystery of why the innocent suffer. Atheists say that there can be no God because of this. Yet to ask the very question is to prove that deep inside human beings expect the universe to have a moral basis where compassion exists, justice is done, and evil is judged.
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