The Reason for Suffering

Dwight Olson, Pinnacle Forum National Board

Job 1:8-22,

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.[a]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

There is nothing more certain in this world than the fact that people will suffer and experience disaster. The question is why? The book of Job is an epic poem, it’s a dialogue between Job and God, God and Satan, and Job and his friends. We must avoid pat answers and we must be willing to live with no answer at all and anticipate the final answer.

When suffering comes, people say if you suffer you must be doing something wrong, that’s moralism – if you live a good life you will get what you want and God will bless you. Sinicism is when there is no God in charge, life is a reaction and it involves the randomness of life and suffering proves that there is no God or He is incompetent, or if there is a God, the heck with him. These are the two approaches most people take: moralism and Sinicism. The book of Job says both of these approaches are wrong, they lead to a dead end. Most people are horrified by God playing games with us. They miss the point.

It is interesting to note that God did not come up with this idea of suffering for Job, Satan did. When God made the world, He didn’t create disease or disaster, it wasn’t a place of death. There were forces that were unleashed when we turned away from God. Men created them as the result of the fall. Satan created Job’s suffering, yet God was in complete control. God permitted it but He limited it. Why? God only lets Satan accomplish the opposite of what he wanted to accomplish. He gave Satan enough rope to hang himself. Satan brought suffering into Job’s life, however, what did Satan want? He wanted to expose God as a fraud.

Job is one of the greatest men of all time. Imagine the number of people who’ve read and studied Job and their lives were changed forever. God allowed suffering into Job’s life to show that He is in control. God hates suffering; however, He allows it to defeat Satan and to show him He is in control. He permits it for a reason. However, He permits it only to the point that it defeats Satan’s actual intentions. It allows the sufferer to become a great person. For the rest of time, the example Job set has had and will have a tremendous impact on every generation for millions of years to come.

Job never finds out why he is suffering. What does God say? Who darkens counsel with words without knowledge? God says, “who do you think you are, Job? I am God!”

People who are moralists do not understand this. The Bible says there are things you will probably never know the answer to, however, hold on to the mystery and stay in relationship with God, a God you can’t control. Avoid the pat answers and embrace what God is saying. You do not need to know the answer the everything. In verse 8 God said, “Job loves me, he is my servant.” Satan says, “no he doesn’t. He loves You for the things he gets from You, money, status, power, health, materialistic things. He doesn’t love You for who You are.” He has put his finger on the major problem of the human race. Satan says, “take all those things away from Job and he will run away from you.” Have you ever experienced this? When someone you love does not get what they want from you and they leave you. How did it make you feel? You weren’t loved for being yourself. We need to see God and love God for who He is. Job lost all of his material things as well as his family, however he still loved God. As a result, he became a great man and he did not know why. Again, avoid pat answers, embrace life without knowing why there is suffering.

Satan is a cynic, he says to us, “God does not love you and you love Him for what you can get from Him.” Job said, “I came into this world naked and I’m going to leave it naked.” It was an emotional realism and then Job tore his clothes. He grieved but he still believed in Christ and experienced the theology of grace.

If you build your life on materialism, you’ll be sad and angry. When it is taken away, you lose your source of joy. Job lost everything but still loved God.

Satan comes to God and says, “Job doesn’t really love You.” That is often what we experience. Things happen to us and our friends and we think that God doesn’t love us. The lie of Satan is if you love God, God will crush you. What we need to prove is that God does love us in these situations. There was another man who was abandoned who suffered tremendously for us. That is how we know that God loves us. That proves that Satan is a liar. Jesus suffered, not so that we won’t suffer, but when we do suffer, we are made more like him.

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