One of the toughest questions to be faced with as a follower of Jesus, is why God allows bad things to happen to good people. It’s a question that for years I feared, because it’s easy to feel trapped in a corner. Why would a loving God allow His creation to suffer? I mean, it’s a valid question. It does seem to go against who God is, doesn’t it? And I would agree with that from a very surface level approach to who God is.
Job’s story is one of seeming contradiction to who God is. Job was an upright, holy, blameless man. That’s how God described him to Satan. Throughout the dialogue between Job and his friends we see this wrestling with who God is in light of what has happened in Job’s life. Yet, as Job works through his thoughts and feelings, facing accusations and rebukes from the friends who have joined him, He continues to come to rest on a significant truth.
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
Regardless of how he felt about his circumstances, that he was unjustly afflicted, and confused about why this had happened to him, Job understood God was in control. God was in control! And if this is true, if God is truly sovereign over everything, nothing happens without first passing through Him. That means, everything Job faced was approved of by God Himself.
Despite the feelings Job had, he seemed to find some sense of peace and comfort in the truth of God’s control. Maybe you’ve face a situation that felt out of control. You couldn’t understand why what was happening, was happening to you. Maybe you’ve wrestled with the question of why God would allow something so terrible to happen to a good person. Maybe, that’s led you to question God’s goodness and His sovereignty.
I think Job could relate. The difference I see is that Job didn’t allow his questions to turn into doubts. He continued to seek understanding, not settle for disappointment. He still held firm to the truth that God was in control, despite the chaos and pain that seemingly surrounded him. He continued to push closer to God, deeper in his relationship. His pain became a catalyst for his growth.
I find encouragement and personal challenge in Job not settling. He didn’t let his frustrations settle in a heap of disappointments.
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
While understanding God allowed his pain to exist, he continued to find hope in Him. Job understood a deep truth I think we often forget in the midst of our own suffering: God is in control, even when it looks like He isn’t. Even though God allowed his faithful servant to suffer, Job continued to seek after and trust Him. Trust isn’t always absent of questions. And that’s ok, questions are how we learn. Job wanted to understand why God allowed such tragedy to take place. But his questions never got in the way of his faith.
What a lesson for us to learn, to be able to question while remaining faithful. To seek understanding with honor. Despite my circumstances, my lack of understanding, or the pain I face, God is still in control. He is still sovereign over everything. And nothing I face comes to me before passing through Him. I have to find peace in knowing there is a purpose, even if I don’t understand it. And even though He allows me to suffer, it doesn’t negate the truth that He loves me. Sometimes the pain we walk through is what we need most to grow. To grow as a person, to grow in our faith, to grow in our relationship with God. Pain is meant to push us closer to Him, but we have a choice in whether we do or not. Job chose to run towards God. He made a decision to seek Him for understanding and comfort. He was able to do that because he understood who God truly was, and let that truth guide him instead of his feelings and circumstances.
When pain finds you, what’s your response?