A consideration of the book of Job provides an opportunity to personally contemplate how you view suffering, tragedy, and evil. The questions of why God allows these or, why God does not intervene are brought up for us to examine closely.
In the opening of the narrative, Job is described as a righteous and God-fearing man. (Job 1:1-5) This good man suddenly has a change in circumstances when tragedy enters his life. He experiences the disastrous loss of his material wealth, the tragic death of his children, and is stricken with a horrific physical affliction. (Job 1:13-19; 2:7, 8, 11) His afflictions are so severe that Job laments being born and wishes to die. (Job 3:1-3, 11, 12; 14:1)
Job chapters 3-37 follow a series of conversations where Job wrestles with the difficulty of his circumstances while his friends assert that he is suffering because of some sin or wickedness in his life. The conversations alternate between Job asserting his righteousness and his friends insisting that God must be punishing him. They claim that he is reaping just punishment for his life choices. These exchanges progress to the point where Job even demands that God explain himself. (Job 31:35-37)
God does answer Job. In chapters 38-41 God questions Job, taking him on a grand tour of the created universe, asking Job if he can begin to explain or even control anything which God has made. In the end Job has to take back his words as he recognizes his insignificance in the face of the Almighty. (Job 42:1-6; Ps. 8:3)
A deep reading of the book will help us come closer to a better grasp of the issues and questions which arise as we attempt to process the existence of suffering and evil in the world.
We can remain confident that God is in control and sustains the universe.
We can be assured that God cares for us and is aware of our devotion to him. As God was confident in Job’s devotion Job 1:8), so He has confidence in us and will sustain us through suffering.
We should look at our circumstances through the eyes of God instead of evaluating God through our eyes. Our wisdom is limited and pales in relation to the Almighty.
Yet our problems are more real to Him, than they are to us. Just as he did not condemn Job for his exasperation, He recognizes the burden we carry in this life. We are not God, but God has walked among us and thus is aware of our weaknesses and is able to aid us in times of tragedy.
We also learn how not to treat those who are suffering. Job’s friends offered false comfort accusing him of sin and being responsible for his suffering. In doing so they spoke wrongly about God.
Although Job was not aware of the universal events at work in his circumstances (Job 1:6-12), today we are aware of the enemy seeking to devour the faithful. We are equipped to withstand and conquer his schemes.
Every problem we face in some way is rooted in human sin and imperfection. Christ is the cure and the solution. In Him and available now is the answer to the penalty and power of sin, along with the complete triumph over all suffering and evil.