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According to God’s own words, Job was a man who was blameless, righteous man, feared God and turned away from evil. God must have been pleased with Job because one day Satan visits heaven and has a conversation with God. God asks Satan, “where have you been?” Satan tells God, “Oh roaming around” ( my interpretation). God asks have you seen my servant Job lately? He is a blameless and upright man. Satan answers, I guess so you have a hedge of protection around him. This is not good for Job!!
Satan is allowed to take everything from Job except his life…and his wife.
“In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:22.(ESV) Instead he “arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped.” Job 1:20.(ESV)
Satan goes back to visit a second time and God allows him to take Job’s health but not his life.
Again Job does not curse God although his wife does suggest that he should. Job’s reply, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”Job 2:9 (ESV)
Now the question from the book of Job. Can God be trusted? Is He worthy of our trust even if we are not blessed by His hand? Is there any spiritual justification of the goodness of God in the midst of suffering that He has allowed in our lives?
The rest of the story is the visitation of three friends and their explanation of God’s reasons for Job’s suffering. First, we have Eliphaz who declares that Job is being punished for some evil he took part in. So, if you will confess Job, it will be over and all will be well. To which Job says, “I am innocent.” Bildad is next. His comforting words are, you must deserve this. God is always right. “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you.” (Job 7:5-7 ESV) Job’s reply to Bildad is there is no mediator. I cannot contend with the Almighty. “There is no arbiter (mediator) between us. (Job 9:33 ESV) Job then pleads for answers. Why God did you bring me forth from my mother’s womb?
Next there is Zophar. Zophar’s consoling words, “ your holier than thou attitude” is what got you into this mess. “For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’” (Job 11:4 ESV). Job again tells his friends, “Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right.” (Job 13:18 ESV) After all the discussion of his plight, Job tells his friends, “miserable comforters are you all.” (Job 16:2 ESV) Job’s three friends cease to answer Job because he is righteous in his own eyes. (Job 32:1 ESV)
But there is a fourth friend in the story. One who is not condemned by God for his message to Job. Elihu, a younger man who has been listening. He has waited out of respect for his elders for his time to speak. Elihu is angry at Job because “he justified himself rather than God.” (Job 32:2 ESV) He is angry also at Job’s friends because they did not have an answer. Elihu respectfully addresses the older men. He says, “ I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. Behold my belly is like wine that has no vent.” (Job 32:18-19 ESV) In other words, I am about to burst if I can’t speak what the spirit has shown me. Elihu speaks for 5 chapters. He is courteous and sensitive to Job’s predicament but Elihu speaks from revelation and not experience. In Elihu, we find the deeper truths of the story.
- We do not have all the answers because WE ARE NOT GOD! God is greater than man. We can’t reason like God. In essence, we think God ought to think and act as we do. We make ourselves to be “like God” when we believe our thoughts are as good as His. This is the very thing that tripped Satan up and got him kicked out of heaven.
- We think God should give us an answer to all of our questions. The silence of God is unnerving. Do we not always “deserve” to know why things happen to cause suffering?
- All suffering is for our discipline. Not PUNISHMENT but training in righteousness.
We are never closer to God than when we have to depend upon him in our suffering.
Submission is a great lesson we learn from suffering. Learning to submit to God’s hand working ALL things to bring us to the image of Himself. Compassion and mercy for others is a product of suffering. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Humility is a testimony of the work that God does in our lives.
Suffering is a display to the world that God’s strength is magnified in our weakness. Finally, suffering prepares us for heaven by loosening the bonds of our temporal world. Charles Spurgeon said, “Through our trials God is slowly weaning us from this earth for the world beyond.”
Phil 3:10 says it this way. “ that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
Elihu tells of the greatness of God. He declares His majestic ways. Elihu says God does speak to man in his suffering. He speaks through revelation, through nature his voice roars. God speaks the loudest in our pain. It is at the end of the story that God speaks to Job and his friends. Job and his friends are humbled by the message of God. It is then that they begin to see their lives from the eternal perspective given by a holy God. A God who is before all things, created all things and holds all things by His power.
(Romans 8:28-29) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” We may never understand the purpose of suffering here but we can hold on to the promises of God. His ways are higher than ours and we will trust Him.