suffering, job, bible, christian

There are many joyous events in the bible.

There are loads of suffering too. A lot. The book of Job highlights a unique example of suffering. I call it unique because, unlike many biblical examples, it shows a three-dimensional view of Job's plight.

Firstly, we have a divine background to the events that transpired, which was the conversation between God and the Accuser.

Secondly, it shows us the reactions of Job's family and friends - people close to him.

Thirdly, we get to know what Job thinks.

If there is anything to take away from these three different views, it is that:

1. GOD IS OMNIPOTENT - HE DOES WHAT HE WILL. However, we can take comfort that everything He does is for His glory and our eternal joy (if Job' story is anything to go by). Also, we can learn that the end of a thing is better than its beginning. Job suffered, but God recompensed him in ways he never thought was possible.

2. EVEN THE BEST THEOLOGY CANNOT CAPTURE GOD'S INTENTIONS. Job's friends were right in saying God punishes the wicked, but rewards the righteous. They were echoing what God's word, what He Himself had said (Isaiah 13:11; Proverbs 11:21). However, we know that this theology was inaccurate in Job's case - he was not a wicked man and he did nothing wrong; yet he suffered. This teaches us that compassion and mercy are key in dealing with suffering, whatever our perspectives about the situation. Just like Job's friends, judgmental attitudes won't help us, neither will it help the sufferer.

3. OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OF LITTLE OR NO CONSEQUENCE TO GOD. Though Job bragged about his own goodness, the response God gave him was less-than-flattering. Thinking we are more than we are worth (even if we are right), is not really smart when it comes to transacting with the Creator. We are better seeking his grace and pleading for His favour. It this sounds a bit demeaning, it's not; for without Him, we are nothing.

Whatever fears are, whatever we are striving with, we must endeavour to nurture a bit of hope (Romans 5:4) based on the knowledge that nothing lasts forever (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and that God is working actively for our good, even when we have no clue about why we are going through so much pain.

May the peace of God be with you.

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