Right near the center of the Bible are the 5 books classified as Wisdom Books; they are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastics, and the Song of Solomon. It is interesting to note that the very first one deals with the issue of suffering. If we can grasp the proper perspective of suffering from Gods point of view, this forms a foundation that we can relate many other issues to in a better light.
Many people ask “Why would a loving God create suffering, physical and mental pain?” God’s intellect, power, and understanding are much higher than ours. We do not have the ability to understand all his motives and purposes. The Bible wants us to accept some things by Faith; even if he told us we do not have the intellect to understand his actions. God chose purposely for us to go through seasons of suffering on this earth. Even his plan of redemption, to reconcile sinners to His Holy Self through His Son included suffering; the agonizing torture of being crucified.
I want you to think about for instance a football or military team. For preparation, to build strength, knowledge, confidence, toughness; the team will have regular practices where work, sweat, and pain begin to mold a group of individuals into a functioning group. This groups purpose is to struggle with persistence, deal with the challenges to accomplish the groups goal. This builds character, perseverance, toughness, empathy, unity, to be the kind of people that the goal requires. God determined before he created the world, that he would build these attributes into us. Do we like it? No. Is it good for our character and His purposes? Yes.
Romans 5:3-5 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
From our perspective down here it looks like the bottom of a handmade rug with loose and tangled threads. But from above, it looks like a beautiful carpet woven with many colors in a beautiful theme.
God is sovereign. Nothing takes him by surprise. He doesn’t wring his hands in dismay each time we sin, and ask “What shall I do now? Before he created the foundations of the earth he knew what would happen. This God who numbers our days and numbers the hairs on our head knows what will happen.
Also we forget that God is the author of Life. Man cannot create life. It is God that gives breath and blood to elements to create a living being. The Bible states that Life is in the blood. Again God is sovereign. He gives life; he takes life. We disagree with what he allows but we don’t have the intellect to grasp all of his purposes, motives, and plans. This side of heaven we just do not understand. We think we would do it different, but we just do not have his Righteous, Holy abilities.
With these facts in mind let us move into the Book of Job, the first of the group of books classified as the wisdom books of the Bible. Lets review. The book opens with the statement “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Satan who is having a conversation with God repeatedly accuses Job of following God because of selfish desires. God allows Satan to bring calamity upon Job up to a point. Satan cannot take his life. God will prove that no matter what happens to Job, Job will trust in God and will not curse Him.
First Job looses all his external possessions and all his children. Next he is allowed to loose his health and goes into agonizing suffering. Jobs three friends come to console him; they are so taken aback by his tremendous suffering that when they first see him they weep aloud, tear their robes, and sprinkle dust on their heads. They remain silent for 7 days. They came to sympathize and comfort him. When they do begin to speak their words turn into accusations telling Job to “fes up” because they are convinced that God is punishing Job for some terrible sin that he has committed. You have this back and forth dynamics of them accusing Job, and then Job vigorously defending his righteousness.
A young man has come on scene beginning in Chapter 32. He is biting his tongue and grinding his teeth waiting for his chance to speak; but out of respect for the older men he waits for them to finish speaking. Then when they finish, he begins by giving them a tongue lashing. This young man Elihu suggest that God gave suffering to Job not as punishment but as a purifying influence. God can use suffering to improve him and build his character. It is also to be noted that after Jobs suffering, he could handle more responsibility. God doubled what was lost.
God created us with a plan; a purpose for our life. We just cannot phantom why one deals with this problem and another that. Some things just don’t make sense to us. God is preparing us for a purpose on the other side of the grave. We are going through training to mold and make us to be what we need to be after this physical life.
Now for a practical personal example. One day as I was reading though Job chapter 33, verses 14-26 hit me. This happened to me!; let me explain.
Years ago Beth and I were living in Houston and our oldest daughter at that time was near 1 years old. We had stopped attending church and sin began creeping into my life. How fast we forget, and begin to dabble in things not good for us in the long run. When we willfully commit sin, we never know how much it will cost us, or how far it will take us.
Job 33:14-18 (14)For God does speak-now one way, now another- though man may not perceive it. (15) In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, (16) he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, (17) to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, (18) to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
In Houston for about a 4 month period I had reoccurring nightmares that I was in hell. Not every night but often enough these dreams occurred. I became apprehensive about falling asleep. To this day I remember them vividly. I was in what looked like a war torn landscape with a red sky; and acutely aware of being alone with no hope. The worst part of the dream was the fiery like anxiety and fear. HORRIBLE! I wasn’t sure whether the dream was for my benefit or my families, but I got the message; we begin attending church again.
Job 33:19-22 (19) Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in this bones, (20) so that his very being finds food repulsive and his soul loathes the choicest meal, (21) His flesh waste away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out. (22) His soul draws near to the pit,
Several years later when I was following the Lord, I prayed for something I did not really need, I just wanted it. When I obtained it, I used it irresponsibly. The next day I strained my back. At the first time I did not think much about it. Two weeks later I used it irresponsibly again and guess what happened; I restrained my back the next day. I got the message; as Gods child I would use it responsibly, or I would suffer the consequences.
And finally Job 33:23-26 (23) Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, (24) to be gracious to him and say, Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him - (25) then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth. (26) He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.
This last part deals with restoration. In Jesus Christ there is forgiveness, acceptance, and restoration. How wonderful it is to bump into someone who holds Jesus out to us; to give us hope that peace and blessing can once again be ours. Our relationship to God can be restored along with His blessings.
Who have you told recently about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.
John 3:35-36 (35) The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. (36) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.