We just finished studying the book of Job in Bible Study, and boy was it eye-opening. Job was a good and faithful man who had it pretty rough. One minute, he’s basking in prosperity with lots of property, tons of livestock, and 10 happy children. Then tragedy strikes. In a matter of seconds, he loses everything. As he’s standing over the fresh graves of all his children, he says something profound:
The Lord gave. The Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
If that wasn’t enough, Job’s body was attacked. He’s covered with sores and is in a lot of pain. His wife constantly whispers, “Curse God,” in his ear as his friends beg him to confess his sins. They believe he’s done something unfathomable and that’s why he’s on the receiving end of such agony. Surely he’s being punished. Naturally Job waffles back and forth between defending himself, crying out in confusion, and questioning his suffering.
Job’s outburst is not only about his physical suffering, but his emotional anguish, too. He’s at the bottom of the barrel and God is absent. He receives no grace from his friends, so he sits in a place without hope. But he never curses his Maker.
Suddenly, God shows up in a storm and asks Job 70 different questions about creation. What He’s really saying is, “I’m God. You’re not. Trust me.”
God uses His physical creation to spotlight Job’s ignorance. If Job doesn’t understand how the universe works, how can he understand God’s mind? God metaphorically reminds Job that there’s so much going on that he can’t see. He has no idea.
After a long, powerful soliloquy from God, Job concedes in 42:5-6
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear
But now my eyes see you
Therefore I retract
And I repent in dust and ashes
We never get an explanation of why Job suffers. God never mentions the fact that the Accuser was given permission to wreak havoc on Job’s life. Satan thought that Job would turn from God the moment he lost everything. He assumed that Job was motivated by personal gain (his wealth, his property, his big family, his health). But instead, Job was motivated by the Person of God.
Job repeatedly asked, “Why me?” and NEVER got an answer. There is no formula for suffering. That troubles some of us.
You’re probably thinking, “I know this Lincee. I’m supposed to be cool with whatever God has for me, but you know what? I’m not there. I’m not like Job.”
So many of us are right there with you. We ask the hard questions. In the midst of suffering, we cry out for answers.
- Why does she get to be pregnant with her fourth and I can’t even have one?
- Why does she get the husband?
- Why can’t I work at my dream job?
- Why can’t I have a job that at least pays me decent money?
- Why did you take my mother at such a young age?
- Why can’t my family just be normal and not dysfunctional?
- What’s wrong with me?
- HOW IS THIS FAIR?
- Where are you God?
- DO YOU HEAR ME?
And at the epicenter of this crap, disappointment and frustration, you want me to say “Blessed be the name of the Lord” for my trials?
Yes. I do.
God is good. It says so in the Bible.
Trials will come. It says so in the Bible.
The book of Job teaches that we may never know why we suffer.
It’s all about perspective. There’s a bigger picture that we don’t see. And there is purpose in the suffering. I’m going to type that sentence again.
THERE IS PURPOSE IN THE SUFFERING.
There is purpose in all of our suffering. You are not alone. Read this:
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.’” — Luke 22:41-42
These are the words of Jesus.
“Lord, if You are willing — because I KNOW you are able [emphasis mine]— take this cup from Me.”
Sometimes the answer is no.
Thank you that our heavenly Father said NO to His Son that night in the garden. Where would we be today if God had stopped Jesus’ suffering?
Whatever you’re dealing with, this “thing” is where God has the greatest potential to do work in your life. It allows you to be more compassionate, stronger and refined. This doesn’t mean that you have to hold in your emotions and put on a good face. The most freeing thing someone told me is that it’s okay to FEEL what you FEEL.
But you can’t stay there. No one ever said it would be easy. But it is worth it.
Go ahead and ask God the big questions.
- Why me?
- Why not me?
- How could you have let this happen to me?
- This isn’t fair.
- What in the world am I supposed to do when I don’t know what to do?
In the midst of what you don’t know, or understand, focus on what you DO KNOW.
Is it fair? No.
Is God good? Yes.
I don’t know.
At the end of the day,
If the ONLY reason you can’t have a baby
If the ONLY reason you have an emotionally absent husband
If the ONLY reason you are staring cancer in the face AGAIN
If the ONLY reason you are at a job you hate
If the ONLY reason I’m single and longing for a spouse
If the ONLY reason all of this is happening is because it puts us on our knees EVERY SINGLE DAY in communion with our Lord because we don’t know what else to do…
Then praise God.
There is purpose in your suffering.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.