“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
Job was a man who experienced much suffering. In an instant everything he had was taken away from him. One by one, a messenger came to the man to report the loss of his livestock, servants, and even all of his children (Job 1:13-19). The only thing that Job had left was his wife and she did not prove to be much of a comfort during this difficult time. Her counsel to him was to Curse God and die! (2:9). In addition to these great losses, Job was afflicted with dreadful boils that covered his entire body (2:7). The pain became so severe that he used pieces of pottery to scratch himself for relief (2:8).
Most of the book of Job contains the man’s quest to figure out the reason that lay behind his suffering. His desire was to know “why” God brought this intense bout of suffering upon him. He knew that God was in control and just (16:11; 19:5-6) but did not understand the purpose that God had with this specific pain in his life (9:17; 10:2; 13:24). His friends were convinced that the suffering was in response to some sin that Job must have done (4:7-11; 15:17-35; 18:5-21; 20:4-29; 22:5-11). However, Job knew that he had been a man of integrity so that could not be the case (10:7; 12:4; 13:18; 23:11-12; 27:2-6).
God eventually responds to Job’s inquiry, complaints, and pleas but He does not answer Job’s main question (38:1-41:34). Instead, God asks him a series of questions that served to humble Job and remind him that God is God and he is not. Questions such as: Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (38:4) and Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place (38:12). Job cannot claim to know God’s infinite wisdom and ways in regards to the reason God had tried him. He responds to God’s questions by recognizing that God is indeed in control (42:2) and that God was right in His accusation that he was attempting to understand what he did not have knowledge of (42:3) as God had stated when He began addressing Job (38:2). Job was speaking of things he did not know and what surpassed his understanding.
The issue should not have been the “why” for Job’s suffering but instead whether or not Job would still trust God in the midst of the suffering that he did not understand. In fact, unbeknownst to Job, this was the very purpose for his suffering. Satan had challenged God that Job would curse God to His face if God took away His hedge of protection upon him and struck him with physical affliction (1:9-11; 2:4-5). To prove that this would not be the case, God gave Job over into Satan’s hand, while setting the boundaries to what the devil could not do to him (1:12; 2:6). God was shown to be right when Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God (1:22) and In all this Job did not sin with his lips (2:10). He remained faithful throughout the storm without having an explanation for it.
Like Job, we often spend a great amount of time pondering the reason for our sufferings and trials. We know that God is sovereign and in control but demand to know the “why” the pain is present. Job never received an answer for the reason he suffered but he trusted God regardless. We may never understand some of the things we go through but the real issue should not be the “why” but our faith. Perhaps we should not ask “why am I suffering?” but instead “am I trusting God through my suffering?”
Love in Christ,