“YOU are my hope and victory…”
Where have the last 8 months gone? Time flies when you are not weighed down with the burden of grief. How gracious the Lord has been.
So that’s my excuse for not keeping up with my blog :-).
One of the highlights in my life the past year has been the body of believers that Paul and I are privileged to know and walk with. It truly has been a bit of heaven here on earth for me. Currently, the women in our church are reading through the Bible. There is something about 200 women reading through The Story of Redemption together. Each week we do an overview of one book. My part is to help lead in the overview of the book of Job. So the past couple of weeks I have been studying (and stressing!). Studying a book of the Bible with the purpose of sharing your findings is VERY intimidating and sobering. That being said, the study of this book has been most encouraging and humbling to me.
So this is where you all come in 🙂 If you have made it this far, thank you for letting me use my blog to sort out my thoughts. Feedback and insight are most welcome.
So here goes…..
The book of Job opens introducing us to Job, a blameless and upright man. We are then transported into the heavenly realm to a court scene where Satan, the prosecutor, accuses Job of being righteous only because God blesses him. “Let Job suffer,” Satan says. “Then we will see how righteous he is.” And God agrees to let Satan inflict suffering. What???
This, of course, begs the obvious question of “Why does God allow good people to suffer?” Further reading shows that the writer is actually setting up a framework to answer the questions, “Is God just?”, and “Where is true wisdom found?”
The story continues with a bewildered and suffering Job. His wife writes him off (“curse God and die”)…uhhh, yeah. She’s not the most encouraging sort.
Then, along come three of Job’s “wisest” friends, who try to explain Gods justice in a blessing/curse sort of way. Do good and God will bless you. Do evil and God will punish you. Strict principle of justice. Job must have done something wrong to have such suffering in his life. These “wise” friends assumed what God’s justice should look like in the world.
Job protests his friends explanations and insists that he is innocent and his suffering is not a divine punishment, so what does Job do? He sends his friends away and takes up his case directly with God and accuses God of being unjust and demands an explanation.
I know, before you (I) get all judgy , try to remember that Job has lost his home, children, all his possessions and his body is covered in boils, and don’t forget the pile of ashes.
But wait, there is one more friend. Elihu, the surprise friend, tells Job that he is wrong to accuse God. God does run the world justly and that suffering may be a warning to avoid future sin. In other words, what Job was going through was meant to build character.
So there you have it (in a VERY simplified version). The wisdom of the ancients has been spent and the mystery still remains….why does God allow good people to suffer?
Then God shows up on the scene. He responds to Job personally. He takes Job on a tour of the Universe. All the cosmic details. What is the point of all this? Remember the assumption about justice by Job and his friends? God’s tour shows Job that his assumption lead to a deeper assumption that Job has enough perspective (of the whole universe) to make such a claim. God’s response debunks Job’s assumption and shows that the Universe is a vast and complex place and God has his eye on all of it, that in fact, He created all of it. Job, however, only has the vantage point of his small life experience. Job’s perspective is limited. He is simply not in a position to accuse God.
Job: You are unjust, I demand an explanation for my suffering
God: You are not in a position to make that claim, I invite you to trust my wisdom
Job responds with humility and repentance.
The ultimate reason for Jobs suffering is never answered. It is simply never revealed. The emphasis is that wisdom is ultimately found in God alone; our human wisdom cannot on its own fathom the ways of God.
When we try to find reasons for suffering we tend to simplify God, like Job’s friends. OR we accuse God, like Job, based on our limited perspective.
At the end of the book, God honors Job’s honesty, for coming directly to Him, in all his pain and suffering.
So where does the book of Job fit in the biblical story of redemption? It calls us to total trust in God, even in the most trying of situations. It prepares the way for Jesus Christ who was and is the ultimate answer to Job’s question. Jesus, who assumed the role of innocent sufferer, and bore the sins of the entire world.
The book of Job does not unlock the puzzle of why good people suffer, but it does invite us to trust God’s wisdom when we encounter suffering. The fear of the Lord is the path to true wisdom
“This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Fathers world; the battle is not done.
Jesus, who died shall be satisfied, and earth and Heav’n be one.”
*cited sources: Bible Project Read Scripture series/The writings of Israel in the Biblical Story
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