A Quick Recap
The subject of suffering and sorrow is one with which we and many theologians struggle. Why does God allow suffering in this world. The issue centers around a couple different hypotheses: that God is either not powerful enough to prevent suffering, or He is not loving enough to relieve our suffering. Most arguments regarding God and His role in suffering boils down to one or the other of those theories.
Suffering begins with sin in Genesis 3. Rebellion brings suffering. Sorrow also comes as a result of natural disasters. the wrongdoings of others or ourselves, and some suffering is born innocently. What we asking when we question God’s role? Do we want God to micromanage our affairs, removing any sense of free will? Do we believe we can understand the details of God’s creation? We want to place blame, however. We want to know why. The problem suffering poses for the monotheist is that cruelty must be sourced. Just like Job and his friends, we sometimes speak without wisdom in trying to make God answerable to us.
God’s People and Suffering
In Hebrews 5:7 and 2:18, the author of that book speaks to the challenges Jesus faced in suffering and pain. II Corinthians 4:8 says we are pressed on all sides, are pursued, are confused, are struck down. Paul ends up calling these light afflictions. Romans 5:13 tells us suffering works endurance, and James 5:10 calls on us to consider the patience of the prophets and the endurance of Job who suffered in the work of the Lord. God’s people are not immune to the pains and sorrows of this world.
The book of Job teaches us that what happens on Earth relates to eternal principles. We can be faithful despite our worldly conditions, and Satan seeks to challenge that at every opportunity. The devil seeks to find each man’s price. In Job 2:4, after Job has already lost so much, Satan still looks for Job’s price. He looks for a breaking point. He knows that faith is difficult when we hurt.
Job 1:21-22 records Job worshipping God after losing much of his family and his possessions. His wife blames God. His friends blame Job. Later, when God replies, the message is simply that God created all and offers no other explanation. Still, Job endures. Like him, we can stand as a monument of faith if we can endure Satan’s temptations in the face of suffering.
Reacting to Suffering
We should not feel as if we are solitary in our suffering. Too often, we compare our suffering to those who we perceive having lives than easier than ours, but we forge too consider those who face worse. Furthermore, we cannot let ourselves give up when faced with our perception of an overwhelming situation. Consider Peter and Judas, both faced with their roles in rejecting Jesus. One kills himself. The other reconciles with his Lord. In Acts 16, things look grim for Paul and Silas as they are chained in prison, yet they praise God. Finally, we should not reject help from our brothers and sisters. Philippians 4:13 says we can do all through Him who strengthens us.
God wants us to lift our eyes and trust Him. Psalms 121, 123, 119:66-67, and more record David looking to God despite any trials around Him. Psalm 118 calls the Lord our helper who keeps us from fear. Consider Jesus’ trust in the Father, knowing He would be raised to life after being lowered in death. He trusted His tomb would be empty after enduring the inhumanities of crucifixion. James 5:13 calls on us to give God our worries, and I Peter 5:6 says God will lift us up when we humble ourselves before Him. Our focus is on Him and the glories He prepares for us in Heaven. After asking who can stand between us and God, Paul calls God’s followers conquerors and inseparable from His love in Romans 8:37-39.
Enduring suffering is a challenge of epic proportions. We will all face things unique to our lives, but we are not alone. While we can debate the origin of suffering, Job teaches us that our resistance to the devil in the face of suffering is a monument to His power and the faith of His people. We can look to one another and to God when we face pain in this life, and let our faith grow so Satan knows we have no price.
lesson by Tim Smelser