“Have you considered my servant Job…?” Satan has come to the Lord from walking the earth and this is what God tells him. God says that Job is righteous man. There is none in the world like Job, we are told. Satan bets God that if Job didn’t have any stuff then Job would not fear and follow the world. God allows Satan to take basically everything but Job’s life. He loses all his riches. He loses his children. He loses his health. Job is reduced to nothing.
Now, Job was not aware of this conversation between Satan and God. Job laments his very birth. He wishes that he had never entered the world. Job is very confused. He is an upright man. What had Job done to deserve this type of punishment? His friends tell him that he is a sinner. Job continues to plead his case, speaking of his good deeds before the Lord. He is incorrect in that he was blameless and deserved an audience with God himself. However, he is correct in saying that his sin was not the reason for the suffering he was experiencing. Most of the middle section of Job details three of Job’s friends telling him how terrible he is and that he should make it all right (tough accountability group, huh?). Job continues to defend himself and lament his suffering. He just wanted to know why.
Is that wrong? I don’t think so. We can wonder all we want. It is a grace of being in Christ that we can go to our Father and petition Him. But we must be ok with His answers and sometimes the lack thereof. God does not speak to Job until the end of the book. Elihu, a prophet, comes before and tells him that disciple is for a reason. He is going through this for a reason! God comes to address Job’s situation in chapter 38. What does God say to Job, this man that has gone through so much? He does not tell him about Satan. There is no mention of something good Job is going to get as a result. No punishment is inflicted. God just tells how great God is.
I am convinced that God’s response is very telling about the nature of suffering. He does not answer the questions Job wanted. He gave him the ultimate answer: God. He asked Job where he was when God created all things. Job does not tell us that we get all the answers but rather that we can trust the person. God does not owe us answers and may not give them. By grace, He will be shown sufficient. Job repented of his words throughout the book and praises the love and holiness of the One True God. The book of Job shows that our suffering is to show God’s glory and to wean us off of insufficient, unsatisfying pleasures. All things work for our good (Romans 8:28). Is it not true in our suffering as well. The Lord gives and takes away but He himself will never leave or forsake us. For the “carnal Christian” this is bad news. But for those in Christ, this is glorious. The end of the gospel gives us the greatest answer in the universe. Christ crucified, reconciliation is enough! The Son of Man is sufficient. God allows suffering to show us His worth. It is not wrong to ask questions. But why settle for that?
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
William Cowper, 1774.