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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Handle Suffering

Job's pain and Unjust Suffering Did Not Prove to be a Barrier to Receiving God's Blessing and Love

Scripture describes Job as blameless and upright – a man who shunned evil and one who was blessed and protected by God.

Suddenly and for no reason Job could discern, everything he had was taken from him – family, money, health, marriage and even friends turned on him.


He eloquently and powerfully expressed his pain – his questions:

“After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: 'May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, “A boy is born!”
that day – may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. That night – may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse days curse that day.'” (Job 3:1-8)

“I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11)

“If I speak my pain is not relieved and if I refrain, it does not go away.” (Job 16:6)

Job found that his “trusted friends” gave him bad counsel. “Now you too have proved to be of no help.” (Job 6:21)
Job verbally affirms the character of God:
“Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes it pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” (Job 9:3-10)

Job doesn't stuff his pain or try to deal with it by not confronting it:

“If I say, ' I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and smile,' I still dread all my suffering.... (Job 9:27)
“He takes his complaint and addresses God” (Job 10:2-12)
Job tried seeking comfort from his friends but the result was:
“miserable comforters are you all!” (Job 16:1)
In spite of earthly sorrows, pain and suffering, Job keeps things in perspective:
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
Finally, Job hears from God. The Lord speaks. Read Job, chapters 38-41.

Job was validated:

“After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.... My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.
The final result:
Job had an incredible encounter with God. His faith was refined. “The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10) Though much of what God restored was worldly gain, the most incredible part to me is that there was an exchange between the God of the universe - the Creator - and Job - one man. Job was humbled before God and at the same time elevated and blessed beyond description.

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