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  • Writer's pictureTrey Talley

How do you handle suffering?

Updated: Mar 25

The challenge of Christian suffering, especially the recipient of unjust or perceived unjust suffering, has the potential to wreak havoc in our minds. No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters. In fact, enduring suffering, even unjust suffering, “is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

It is common for Christians to assume that if they live a righteous life they will not have to suffer in this life. However, this is simply not true.

What if you truly were the most righteous person on earth, would you still have to suffer? Well, this is precisely the scene that we see taking place in the opening of the book of Job.

8And the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" 9Then Satan answered the Lord and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason? 10Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face." 12And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand." So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:8-12)

In the following passages, we read that Job suddenly had all of his wealth removed, his servants were killed, and even his children were killed. How does Job respond? We find that he remains the most blameless and upright man on the earth. Even in the face of unimaginable suffering, Job remained faithful. Some time goes by, and it happens again.


1Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

7So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:1-10)

Job had lost everything and gained pain, sorrow, and suffering. His possessions, family, and health were gone. Yet he still held fast to his integrity and would not curse God.

The majority of the remaining chapters of Job have to do with him asking God why he is suffering and his so-called friends wrongly assuming that they knew the cause of Job’s suffering.

After many chapters of conversations of these four humans attempting to probe the mind of God, God answers Job. He never directly answered the question of why Job was suffering, but instead, responded by asking Job questions; questions that Job could not answer. However, every question that God asked, caused Job to see that God is sovereign and has a plan for everything, including Job’s suffering.


1Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 4“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:1-5a)

Job wanted to know, “God, what did I do to deserve all of this suffering?” God answers by revealing that He is omniscient, He is omnipotent, He is in control of all things, and He did so by asking Job question after question. Every unanswerable question that God asked Job caused Job’s eyes to become more aware of the infinite gap between his mind and the mind of God.


1Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)


Recap

Job suffered immensely, yet he never learned why. He didn’t get to read the first two chapters of the book that bears his name. However, we get to see the earthly struggles of Job and through the window into the supernatural realm, we get to hear the conversation between God and Satan. As we peer into the window of heaven revealed for us in those opening chapters, let us always remember that God is sovereign even during trials, persecutions, and suffering.

In the end, Job’s suffering led to him having a better understanding of God, a better understanding of himself, an even deeper faith in God, and Satan losing. May the same be said of us of us!


Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder

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