Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
The question for Christians here is this: Where is God in our suffering? Not in conceptual suffering, nor in the suffering of people over there; but in actual, personal, experienced suffering. Where is God when our lives are dismantled by inconsolable grief or crushing disappointment? The book of Job does not deny the reality of our sufferings. Indeed, at one level this book complicates our perception of God by making us aware that God may permit suffering. But the reality that Job will ultimately perceive through his suffering also makes us aware that our lives are not beyond God’s attention and our difficulties are not beyond his purposes.
The ultimate answer to questions about God’s nature and love in the midst of suffering will not come until the New Testament points us to the cross of Christ. Where is God when suffering is great and all seems lost? The gospel says God is there, in that man. Since God is there in that man’s unfair suffering, when we suffer the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” we are close to God, drawing comfort from his presence (2 Cor. 1:5). And because there was purpose beyond the fathoming of those who witnessed Christ’s suffering—despite its horrific unfairness—we can believe there is purpose in our difficulties, and eternal care beyond them, even if there is no fairness evident in them.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.