I will never forget the day my grandmother’s car was sold. We stood in silence as the new owner drove away from the assisted living facility with the last vestige of her independence. She had already lost her husband (my grandfather) and her home. Now her car pulled out of sight.
Oftentimes, we think of suffering as an event. Something devastating happens. We lean into God, our family members and loved ones, and manage to come out on the other side.
But what happens when a series of tragic events unfold, like we see in the life of Job? Not only are you dealing with multiple losses, but as each new one arises, somehow all the previous losses bubble to the surface, which can seem like an emotional avalanche. And, like Job, you may feel isolated in your suffering.
After the loss of his 10 children, the story of Job continues:
“‘Very well,’ the Lord told Satan, ‘he is in your power; only spare his life.’ So Satan left the Lord’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (Job 2:6-7, CSB).
We can only imagine how Job felt when his wife and sole remaining family member suggested that he curse God and die. On top of that, his so-called friends added insult to injury by blaming the victim, Job, by suggesting his sin must have caused these tragedies. Job begins to question not only the purpose of his life, but even why was he born.
What happens when a series of tragic events unfold, like we see in the life of Job? Not only are you dealing with multiple losses, but as each new one arises, all the previous losses bubble to the surface, which can seem like an emotional avalanche.
Like Job, we may not understand God’s purposes in many seasons of our lives, but we can read his story and learn at least three valuable lessons from it. When Job was completely isolated, God was present.
First, Job’s friends had thin theology. They were correct in blaming brokenness on sin, because all brokenness originated in the Garden of Eden. But theirs was a legalistic theology of sin that rewards good behavior and punishes bad. Suffering is not equally given according to how good or bad a person may be.True theology without understanding context is not only inappropriate but can be damaging.
Second, God is sovereign and controls everything. Although He gave Satan permission to afflict Job, He was still in control. Each time He allowed Satan to afflict Job, He also provided a boundary.
Finally, we are never alone in our suffering. When life’s trials become intense, focus on God who promised in Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave you or abandon you.”
We marvel at the “patience of Job” after 39 chapters of intense suffering and painful discourse. We breathe a sigh of relief when God restores Job’s family and possessions.
But what most people miss is the picture of Christ in Job. Job’s friends thought he was being punished by God for his sin. Even though God called Job a “righteous” man, he was a human being with a sin nature. But in Isaiah 53, Jesus is called “a man of suffering,” “despised and rejected,” “struck down by God,” but for our rebellion and iniquities.
Job and his friends engaged in lengthy dialogue about who they thought God was, but the story concludes with God telling Job who He actually is. Job responds, “I had heard reports about you, but now my eyes have seen you.”
Terri Howell / Production Assistant / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina