Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
Job’s friends who came to comfort him ended up making him feel worse. When he complained to them about his pain and the feelings of confusion that his loss and suffering had brought about, they insisted it must be because of his sin.
When he protested his innocence they pounced on his words and accused him of hiding his sin, because in their minds God would never allow the innocent to suffer. Instead of comforting him, their words drove him to despair.
They really meant to help Job by bringing him to recognize his sin and repent, but their false reasoning only made Job’s suffering worse. Knowing that he hadn’t done the things they accused him of doing made it seem like God was being unjust in allowing this suffering to come upon him.
We often assume that all suffering is the direct result of our sin. Like Job’s friends, when something bad happens to us, we think we’re being punished for something.
Wicked and foolish behavior does indeed bring disaster upon us, and good decisions and good behavior generally bring blessing. That’s how it usually works, but there’s more to it than that. If your sin has been forgiven for Jesus’ sake, God isn’t in the punishing business as far as you are concerned. He has already forgiven you.
We live in a sin-darkened world where bad things sometimes happen to good people. In fact, sometimes the good people are targeted precisely because they are good.
Job wondered why he had been made to suffer disaster and disease, but he firmly believed that God knew what he was doing. Knowing he hadn’t done anything to bring the disaster on himself and that all his sins had already been forgiven anyway, he expressed his bewilderment, saying, “I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.’”
Job 10:1-2 God was doing something in Job’s life that Job didn’t understand. Eventually Job learned what God was teaching him (and us, as we read about it thousands of years later), but sometimes we don’t find out what the purpose of our suffering was, in this life. Some things we won’t understand until we get to heaven.
It doesn’t really matter. We know that our loving Father in Heaven has a good purpose in whatever He allows to touch us in this life. We know that He is good and that we can trust Him.
We would like answers, of course. We’d like to know the reasons and the purpose before things happen, maybe so we can decide whether we think it’s worth it. But we’re not in charge, and the One who is can be trusted.
Lord, I know that I don’t get to have all the answers in this life. I’m okay with that, because I’m not in charge; You are. I trust You. Keep me close, in Jesus’ name. Amen!
Pastor Dan Giles