What is God's Answer to Suffering?
By Jeff Kennedy
This week in Sunday School:
We’ll be looking at a couple of passages from the book of Job again this week. Last week we explored “Why Am I Suffering?”. This week we will look at “What is God’s Answer to Suffering?”. The passages are Job 40:1-8 and 42:1-6.
By this point in the story, Job had suffered unimaginable emotional, physical, and spiritual pain. His life has been turned upside down, and his friends, who were supposed to be comforting him, have only accused him of wrong doing. Job gets to the point, where he is blaming God, for being unjust and he thought that if he could just talk to God, reason with Him, that he would be proven to be innocent and undeserving of the things that had happened to him. Then God granted Job his wish and appeared in a whirlwind to give Job his chance to argue before God, and explain how God was unjust and wrong for allowing such terrible things to happen. Things didn’t go as, I imagine, Job thought they might. As he stood before our holy God, he realized how insignificant that he really was, in comparison to the Creator of all things. He immediately knew that he was wrong for suggesting that God was unjust in anything that He does. At first, Job would not speak at all, but then all he could do is apologize to God and acknowledge that he was just a man and could not possible understand the ways of God.
I suppose that many of us, who have suffered great tragedy, have questioned God. Perhaps some of us have even blamed God for our suffering. Or we have thought God doesn’t care about us and that’s why He allowed something bad to happen to us. Perhaps many of us have made the same errors that Job made during his suffering.
When Job got his chance to be face to face with God and to argue his case before the All Mighty, he, very quickly, realized a few things. 1) God is greater that we are, 2) God is more knowledgeable than we are, 3) God is never unjust in the things that He does or allows to happen. Roman’s 9:20 says “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, “why have you made me like this?” One of the most difficult aspects of being human, is that God is so much more than we that we can’t even begin to understand His ways, His reasons, His judgments, His mercies. We simply don’t have the capacity to understand why God does what He does. Perhaps not understanding our suffering is so hard for us is because we may think that we have a right to know why. We deserve to know why. But the hard truth of the matter is that the Creator does not owe us anything, and that is so hard for us to accept. I know this feeling. I’ve been there. I still don’t know the why and I’ve come to the understanding that I will never know the why on this side of Heaven. That’s a hard position to accept. Like Job, I came to understand that God’s ways are higher than mine. God’s plans are better than mine. God’s grace and mercy are far greater than I can imagine. I had to let go of myself and just trust Him, knowing He loves me and will be with me always.
Job, in great humility, realized that he was wrong and he apologized to God. He accepted his position as the one that was created and God as the creator. This is the lesson from Job that we all need to take to heart. Sometimes God will not allow us to know the why, He just wants us to trust that He knows better than us and to trust that He loves us and will be with us. When we let go of ourselves and humbly reach for God, He will be there to provide for our every need.
May God bless you all and I hope to see you this week in Sunday School at Marantatha