By Tim Frank
First Baptist Church, Carthage
Focal Passage: Job 40:1-8; 42:1-6
Last week we met a righteous man named Job. God allowed Job to be tested by allowing his 10 children to be killed, all his possessions destroyed or stolen, and his health devastated with painful sores. In the midst of his suffering, Job sought God for answers to his suffering.
God’s answer to suffering is His patience with our questions and complaints. After 37 chapters of dialogue between Job and his friends, God speaks and confronts Job. God reveals the limitation of human understanding and the folly of human wisdom. There is no sense of apology from God nor an explanation for Job’s suffering. God does not justify His actions to Job. In Job 38-42, God challenges Job with over 70 questions which reveal God’s sovereign rule, His loving care of the universe and His complete justice.
God’s answer to suffering is His compassion, even when we have been harsh and critical. In Job 40:1-5, Job responds in the realization of his place in the universe and covers his mouth before the Almighty God. He has no right to argue with God nor debate His judgment. The Lord asks Job, in verse 8, if he is in a position to challenge His judgment or declare Him guilty, in order to justify himself. To all the questions, the implicit answer from Job is a silent, “No.”
God’s answer to suffering is His mercy when we want to set Him straight. I picture Job, as people I have known, saying, “When I get to heaven, me and God are going to have a talk. I am going to ask Him to answer “Why?” Such thinking is an affront to the power and majesty of God. As created human beings, we are not on the same level as God. He owes us no explanation. He is the God of the universe, and His way is perfect and right. He is the source of right and wrong. He is the center of justice.
God’s answer to suffering is in His understanding of all things. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than we are, as the heavens are above the earth. On a beautiful day, I look up in the sky, see the clouds and think the heavens are not very high above the Earth. But then, I gaze into the night sky and see the stars and realize the heavens are so much higher above the Earth.
However, as I look through a powerful telescope and see the Milky Way galaxy, I am humbled by the expansiveness of the heavens and the comparative insignificance of planet Earth.
Then, I am blown away as I hear an astronomer share that there are thousands of galaxies beyond the Milky Way. All this to say, just when we feel we have grasped God’s greatness and power, we have only just begun to understand.
God’s answer to suffering is His restoration and blessing. As God finished His questions, Job was overwhelmed. He humbles himself before the Lord (Job 42:1-6). Job exclaims in verse 5, “I had heard reports about You, but now my eyes have seen you.”
Needless to say, this was a life changing experience for Job. Job stayed true to his faith in God, and, even though he had questions, he maintained his trust in God. He repented from his words of confrontation toward God, and, the story ends with his health and possessions having been restored. Job also had ten more children, and the Scripture says “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12-17).
As believers in Jesus, we know the “rest of the story.” God’s ultimate answer to suffering is in the gift of the Savior. Jesus came, lived, and died on the cross to open the way to complete comfort and peace in suffering. He rose from the grave to give us eternal life free from pain, suffering, and death. Jesus is our answer, our hope, our life (Colossians 3:1-4). B&R — Frank is pastor of First Baptist Church, Carthage.