Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Read Job 19:23-27 (ESV)
“Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
What lessons has God taught you through suffering? Do you ever struggle with the “why” of your trials?
All of us have wrestled with the question of why God allows suffering. In fact, the problem of evil is often cited by atheists as a reason why they don’t believe in God at all. It is often even more baffling to us that a loving, all-powerful God would allow good people to suffer.
In the book of Job, a righteous man wrestles with that exact question. We don’t know exactly who wrote the book of Job, but details from the text about the culture lead scholars to believe that it is the oldest book in the Bible probably written about 2,000 B.C.
The very beginning of the book gives us insight into events in heaven. Satan approached God and asserted that the only reason Job was righteous and faithful to the Lord was because God had blessed him. Satan predicted that if God allowed Job to suffer, then he would curse God. So God allowed Satan to test Job. His only limit was that he could not kill Job. Satan attacked Job’s health, his livelihood, and killed his children.
In chapters 3-37, we read conversations that Job had with his wife and his friends. His wife’s advice was to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job rebuked her: “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). His friends no doubt meant well but their conclusions about Job’s problems were incorrect and overly simplistic. Job repeatedly maintained his innocence and felt as if his friends were judging him. Job and his friends debated back and forth about why God allowed Job to suffer while evil people appeared to prosper. Job definitely questioned God and wanted to argue his case before Him, but he didn’t curse him or reject him. On the contrary he said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him…” (Job 13:15).
In chapters 38-42, God answered for Himself by speaking through a whirlwind. Basically, God inquired where Job was when He created the world? Does Job have the power or the know-how to rule and care for the entire world? Only God as the Creator and Sustainer of life has that knowledge and power. Who are mere men to question Almighty God or make assumptions about His ways? After God’s speech, we see Job admit that compared to God, he is insignificant and lacks the wisdom to answer (Job 40:4-5). In other words, he wisely and humbly shuts his mouth.
God also challenged Job asking “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8). Essentially, when Job was complaining about God allowing him to suffer while evil prospered, he was acting like he knew better than God. He was asserting that God was in the wrong! That is quite the accusation to make against God! And yet, if we are being honest, I’d guess that we’ve all made this assertion about God before. Somehow we think that if we were God, we’d do it better. Yikes.
In those moments, we need to humble ourselves like Job does in response. In Job 42:2-3, Job repents and submits to God’s sovereignty and authority over his life: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘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.”
In the end, the Lord restored Job’s fortune and family. In fact, He blessed Job twofold and he lived to be an old man who saw four generations of his offspring. God gave Job so much after his intense experience of suffering. But there is one thing Job never got—the answer as to why he was suffering. Instead, he was reminded who God is—our Creator and our Sustainer who is all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly just, and perfectly loving. When Job was reminded of that, he didn’t need to know the reason for his pain. He knew he could trust God because He is sovereign over all.
Even in this ancient book, we see a Scarlet Thread of redemption. In today’s verse, we see that Job clearly believed that God would redeem his life after death. He also clearly believed in a resurrected body because after his flesh has decayed, he still believed he would see God in his flesh. Friends, we will likely never know the why behind the question of suffering. But we do know that like Job, God often uses suffering to test us, grow us, and mature us. We know that we can trust God because He is sovereign. Most of all, we know that our Redeemer lives and at last He will stand upon the earth. We’ll see Him in our own flesh with our own eyes.
Lord, I don’t understand why You’ve allowed suffering in my life. But I do know that You are sovereign. You can see the whole picture while I can only see a fragment. So I trust You. Take my trials and teach me more about You. Help me persevere and mature. No matter what, my hope is in You. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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