If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2 of this series, you can read them here:
Lessons from Job, Part 1
Lessons from Job, Part 2
In Part 1 you’ll find an introduction to this series as well as a summary of the book of Job. Part 2 contains the first two lessons.
Lesson 3: God was Near, Loving, and Just to Job in His Suffering
Job’s suffering was for his good. Job couldn’t see this. He said that God was ignoring him and was distant (9:11, 16). He called God whimsical and unjust (9:22-24). He constantly justified himself rather than God, basically saying that God was unfair in bringing such suffering upon him (32:2). At one point he wished God would just leave him alone (14:6). He thought fleeing from God would end his suffering. But God was not distant, whimsical, or unjust in his dealings with Job. In fact, he was just the opposite.
For the Christian today, God is always for his children and never against them. Even suffering on an unimaginable scale like that of Job is never, ever a sign that God is far away from his child, that God hates his child, or that God is unjust in what he’s doing. He may not explain himself, but he is good and he is doing good to you—always.
How do I know this? Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God not only designs the suffering that his children experience and then ensures they go through it (see lesson 2), God does so with a specific purpose. Romans 8:28 reveals that his purpose in our suffering (suffering being included in the words “all things”) is our good.
If God designed the suffering you’re experiencing and actively ensured that you were placed in it, then cling to the fact that he did all that for your good. He loves you; therefore, he caused your suffering. The fact that God is both good and good to you even at life’s bleakest moments, Christian, must be the backbone of your understanding of suffering.
Lesson 4: God Does Not Have to Answer to Anyone as to Why He Causes a Person to Suffer
In dangerously provocative words, Job demanded that God give an account for his actions (7:17-21, 9:22-24, 9:29-35, 23:7). Job’s three friends, Elihu, and God himself pick up on this and call Job on it. God is simply not obligated to explain himself to anyone about anything ever. Such a demand is both arrogant and foolish. It is arrogant because it elevates a man above God, as if the creation had the right to demand that his Creator give an account of his actions. It is foolish because such a demand implies that the finite creature knows more than his infinite Creator. God’s ways are higher than our ways. Sometimes God doesn’t explain what he’s up to. And he doesn’t have to. Instead of demanding an explanation, trust his goodness. Remember lesson 3.
Instead of demanding that God give an account for his actions, do what the psalmists did. Time after time the psalmists pour out their souls before the Lord in unabashed honesty, yet they don’t call God to explain himself. They express the fact that God feels distant and that they feel forgotten: ” O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1), yet there’s always a sense of humble hope despite such feelings: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:5-6).
So be brutally honest with God. Tell him exactly what you’re feeling and beg for his renewed presence and for your healing. God longs for such deep fellowship with his children. Just make sure your heart is not demanding that God explain himself. And if it is, tell him so in brutal, humble honesty and beg him for repentance from such an attitude. He’ll hear you. “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
Share Your Thoughts
1. How has God been good to you in your suffering?
2. Where else in the Bible do we see God as loving in the midst of someone’s suffering?
3. What verses encourage us that God is still good, even when we suffer?