Saturday, July 24, 2010

How to suffer well- What Job got right and his friends got wrong part II

I don't have a lot of personal experience with suffering and certainly not of Job-like proportions, but truth is truth and God has made it known to us through His Word.  These observations on suffering come from my recent reading of the book of Job.  While Job was reprimanded by God for his pride, it seems to me that Job did at least 6 things right in the midst of his suffering.

1.  Job refused to blame God or curse Him.  In fact, Job says his only comfort in his circumstances is that he has not sinned by cursing God.  (1:22, 2:8-10, 6:10) 

2.  Job acknowledged God's sovereignty- over nature (9:5, 26:7-14), nations (12:23), the length of our lives (12:10, 14:5), and even over the details of our lives including suffering (7:17-20, 12:9, 13:27, 19:8, 23:13-14, 30:19).  Job realizes that his suffering is not an accident, but that it was ordained by God for some reason such as to test him.  On the surface, it may seem like acknowledging God's sovereignty over suffering is the same as blaming God for your suffering, but I think there's a difference.  Job 1:22 says that in all his suffering "Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."  So Job realized his suffering was from God, he was unhappy about it, he didn't understand it, but he didn't charge God with wrong.

3.  Job acknowleged his own sin and that no one is innocent before God.  This principle is almost hidden since Job spends so much time protesting his innocence to his friends- in other words he says compared to you guys I didn't do anything wrong.  He's saying his sin can't explain his particular suffering (although it certainly explains suffering in general)- or else everyone on earth would be suffering to the degree to which they sin. But a closer inspection of Job's words show that he realizes he is not innocent and has no right to question God.  Job is in touch with his own sin nature, unlike his self-righteous friends.  (7:21, 9:2, 9:14-15 & 28-31, 31:33)  In fact, Job cries out to God for forgiveness.  "Why then do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?" (7:21a)

4.  Job acknowledged God's wisdom in the midst of his suffering.  (21:22, 28:28, 12:13, 16)  So although Job doesn't understand why God has caused him to suffer, he knows God is all-wise.  Job struggles with his own perplexity, not with God's. 

5.  Job acknowledged God as a just judge.  (23:6-7, 24:23-24)

6.  Job also acknowledged God as his creator and redeemer.  (10:8, 19:25)

In summary, Job had a right view of God.  He understood that life is all about God's glory and His working everything out to that end.  He understood that somehow even his suffering was wrapped up in God's glory, though he didn't like it or know why. 

My favorite part of Job is that he realized our need for a mediator between God and man.  "Surely even now my witness is in heaven, and my evidence is on high.  My friends scorn me, my eyes pour out tears to God.  Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor!" (16:19-21 emphasis mine) Job understood that priests were of limited value (where were they when he needed them?).  His ardent cry for someone to plead his case before God is answered in Christ.

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intecession for them."  (Hebrews 7:25)

Perhaps even then the second member of the Trinity was pleading to God the Father for Job.  But Job didn't know this.  What a comfort it is for us to rest in the intercessory work of Christ.  We know that no matter what trials befall us, we are not alone.  We have an Advocate who is seated at the right hand of God in heaven making intercession for us.  And Job is one in the "cloud of witnesses" encouraging us to suffer well for the glory of God.

1 comment:

  1. I love the points made about Jobs declarations. Suffering is hard, and I, like you have not ever had "Job like" proportions, but having a right view on things is always important. It is so easy to loose your way. Praise God we have His Word. thanks for sharing!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.