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What is Suffering All About? Ask Job

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Published on: May 20, 2015

Why is it that the Lord always has His children go down the hard road?  There is always some obstacle that you need to overcome or some barrier you have to get through. Sometimes, it seems as if it is one thing after another. Take Job for example, he was a man who was perfect and upright, who feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:1). God had greatly blessed him. He had seven sons and three daughters, thousands of sheep and camels, 500 hundred yoke of oxen and donkeys and his household was “…the greatest of all the men of the east (Job 1:3).”

Job honored God and even made sure that his children were sanctified when they feasted by offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all just in case they had sinned and cursed God in their hearts. And he did this continually (Job 1:5).

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Job was an honorable man.

His story is presented in the book of Job in the Bible. One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and the Bible says that Satan came also among them. The Lord asked him, “Whence comest thou?” and Satan replied, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”

Then the Lord asked him, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” And Satan replied, “Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”

And the Lord said unto him, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.”

Thus began Job’s trouble. It was because of nothing he had done, but was allowed by God (notice Satan had to get the Lord’s approval) to prove Job’s heart and test him to see if the reason Job served the Lord was because of his many blessings. Job was about to experience this hard road.

It began with one messenger after another coming to tell him of all the bad things that had befallen him. The first said that Sabeans had plundered the servants of Job and took his oxen, donkeys and killed his servants. While the first messenger was still speaking, another messenger came and said that the fire of God fell from heaven and burned Job’s sheep and consumed his servants. And still while that messenger was delivering his bad news, another one showed up saying the Chaldeans came and stole his camels and killed Job’s servants.

Finally, another messenger appeared as the other was still speaking and gave Job the most devastating news of all: His sons and his daughters were all killed in their older brother’s house as a wind came and the house fell on them.

After hearing all of this Job tore his clothes, shaved his head, fell down upon the ground and… cursed God? No, Job worshipped God!

Not many of us would have done the same. Most of us would have been angry at God, but even with all this, Job worshipped God. Even after the Lord allowed Job to be struck with boils from the soles of his feet to top of his head, Job would not turn his back on God. His own wife said to him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” But Job would not do it.

His friends even accused him of doing evil. Job’s suffering and sorrow were so insurmountable that he wished he had never born, but not once did he curse God. Millions of thoughts must have gone through his head. “What have I done to deserve this?” “What is God doing?” In truth, Job had done no evil, but God allowed him to suffer.

Sometimes God will allow us to suffer and go through hard times. Sometimes He may allow this to happen even though you may not have done anything wrong. Look at Joseph, Elijah, Daniel and Paul. Look at the heroes of the faith such as John Bunyan, William Tyndale, Corrie Ten Boom, and more. They all suffered.

Suffering is a part of Christianity. It makes us more like Christ. It is like a slow burning or purging to which the Lord allows and you cannot escape until He has burned the dross from you and purified the “gold” within you.

There is a famous quote by Aeschylus that says, “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”

How true that is. But the beautiful thing is that along with our suffering comes wisdom, wisdom that could have not been attained any other way and most importantly a testimony, which the Lord will anoint for His glory.

So, how does Job’s story end? It ends with the Lord answering Job out of a whirlwind in which He explains to him His dominion, majesty, might and power! Here are some excerpts of what the Lord said to Job from Job 38:

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it?…

…Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

…Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? Declare if thou knowest it all…

…Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the heart?”

The Lord said all this among many other things.

God knows what He is doing. Job knew just that. He said,

“I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee…I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee (Job 42:2, 5).”

In the end, after Job prayed for his friends, the Lord blessed Job and gave him twice as much as he had before so that “his latter end was more blessed than his beginning.”

If you are a real Christian, trials will come, you will be purged in the fire, you will be thrown in the water (without knowing how to swim) and more. You will not always understand what the Lord is doing. In fact, most of the time you will not, but the most important thing to know is that God is Almighty and Powerful and He holds all things in His hands.

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