I have long wondered why God seemingly “used” Job to prove a point to Satan. It would “seem to me” that He was using Job as a “one upsmanship” to Satan. I know that is ascribing to God evil intents. But it has appeared that God is saying…I’ll destroy Job’s earthly possessions (well, they really are HIs, we know) just to prove to you that He’ll still stay with Me. He allowed his family to be “killed” (were they ready to die?) and took everything away from Job to “show” Satan…Believe me I know that everything belongs to Him anyway and He can give and He can take away…but this has long been a puzzle to me.
@patgst That is a very good question. I am linking the Bible Project overview of the Book of Job simply because I think it does a great job of helping me enter into the story before reflecting on it.
Before trying to give an answer to your question, I would like to ask you a few questions.
What does God say is His reason for allowing the ‘satan’ or accuser to test Job? We know the accuser wanted to test Job because he did not believe Job would be faithful if God allowed him to suffer. But what does God say with His own mouth that His reason is? (answering this question is important to help you with the feeling of ‘one upmanship’ in the story)
What do you think are the implications of the reason God gives (or does not)?
Can you think of any possible reasons God might allow Job to suffer?
Here are a few reasons to prime the pump:
1 - As an Example to Those Who would suffer Later
James 5:10-12 - Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Job’s life is an example to us of God’s faithfulness even through suffering.
2 - To Correct False Views of Suffering
When Jesus’ disciples encountered a man born blind, they asked him whether the man or his parents sinned, that he was born that way. They still thought suffering must be linked to something bad that someone had done. But Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Job’s story also may have served to bring God glory and correct false views of God and the world.
What are the connections between evangelism and spiritual warfare?
I understand what you are saying. Here is what Matthew Henry says, “Job’s afflictions began from the malice of Satan,by the Lord’s permission for wise and holy purposes.” But here is my underlying conundrum (and it is a bit personal:) when as a wife, I was forcibly “taken”, slapped and said, “You are my wife and you will do what I say” (and yes, he was a Christian)I learned to put one foot in front of the other and just became numb and when one of my daughters and two of my cousins were molested by my “father” (which I did not know until many years after the fact !!!) was this “allowed” by Him? I have long wondered when people say, “God is in control” if they have really been through any of this. It seems pretty glib to me. And before you think this has made me walk away from Him I was to tell you it has not. There have been so many other things that have occurred in my life that one of my pastors said “You’ve had such a hard life.” It didn’t dawn on me until I looked back over my 78 years and realized it had been no picnic starting with a mother that said, “…I didn’t want a baby when you came along” and promptly lived that out. So while at times I’ve had more fatalism than faith(and at times have walked through this life with great numbness of soul, I am still with Him and He is still with me…still my question survives even after 57 years that the abuse occurred…when things like this happen is it with His permission?? Thank you for taking your time to consider answering this.
First I want to thank you for being so honest and vulnerable with your story. I know, personally, that it is not easy nor something to be taken lightly. It is sometimes very easy for us as Christians to point to Job and say, “ah it all makes sense in the end, Job is greatly blessed and God allowed these things to happen for a good reason.” I would argue when we do that we are often merely intellectualizing the story of Job, the story of suffering. I don’t know if Job would appreciate that. I also wonder if we become one of the thoughtless friends giving advice to a person in the middle of extreme suffering. God has some choice words for those friends in the story (not so good).
Job is a difficult story when you are the one who has gone through the suffering. It is often our question how God could allow these things to happen to me? Once again, I know this question personally. And I think one of the core points of Job, is there are not easy answers. I can not speak to your pain and what you have gone through, but I can speak to my own. The evil actions of others (done in the guise of being a Christian or not) are allowed to happen. So are my own evil actions. God in many cases did not stop them or those who hurt me, not did he stop me when I committed evil in my own life against others. The suffering we can inflict on each other sometimes seems beyond imagination. And yet I know that if God were to have stopped all of the evil from happening against me, a just God would also have stopped me, and either would have had to control me as a puppet without freedom, or destroyed me completely. Instead, I like others, was given grace, and freedom. I am alive today because of God’s choice to allow evil to exist. More than that, I have come to know the love of God, freely, because I had time and grace given.
I don’t know how I would have dealt with what happened to me if I did not have Jesus in my life. If I did not learn from Jesus what it looked like to forgive the unforgivable (to be crucified by your own creation who you love.) I don’t know what hope I would have if Christ had not said blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. If I did not have the Spirit of Christ who loves his enemies (and he knows more suffering than I have ever experienced or will experience)
Job says something in the middle of all his pain, Job 19:25 "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26"Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;" Even in the worst of Job’s pain and suffering, he knew that there was redemption for him, that after all the pain and the suffering and his skin being destroyed he would see God in the flesh. I don’t know what hope there is if not the hope of Job found in Christ. I am sorry for what has happened to you, I am so sorry for people who claim to have the Spirit of Christ but do evil like that. I thank you for being real and honest and I pray you and I will see redemption, the redemption of this world, of our neighbors, of ourselves, and of our flesh.
Thank you for your compassionate and caring words. Your thoughts are quite possibly the most helpful I’ve ever had and I’ve been searching for some kind of rationale all these years.
As you can tell it has been agony at times trying to understand not just what happened to me but why and for what purpose. Your response certainly helps me to see some deeper reasons of that/those events.
Your reply about not only the evil that happens to us but the evil/hurt/scars that we have caused others has caused me to draw back and look at a picture that I had not thought of before
I cannot tell you how I appreciate your answers/logic and how much peace it has brought to me after all these years. I thank you for taking time to help me reason this out and drawing my attention out of the “why me” frame of mind and opening up more precise ideas and a different point of view.
Thank you so much.
I am grateful that God does not mind our questions except when they are designed as a smoke screen and an excuse not to believe Him.
I thank Him for the wisdom He has given you to help me see things more clearly.
I have continually prayed for my daughter that her memories be healed. I did not know what had happened until she was a young mother and her husband urged her to go to consoling which did help her. But there is so much of our mind that we ourselves cannot reach. But He can.
I now, also. in my family have a granddaughter that has transgendered into a male, one of my sons is in the gay community and one of my granddaughters married her girlfriend last summer.
My husband is now in a Memory care facility (when I first learned he had dementia it was over whelming but the Lord taught me to take one incident at a time. And then he fell down the stairs and changed our lives yet again. his confusion grows daily) His son and I oversee his health and thank the Lord we support each other. There is a family member that has not been that supportive of the decisions that have been made and that has been hard.
Two of my daughters are not speaking to me. (Btw, after the “incident” where I learned I was to do as I was told I was given 5 children in less than 5 years…) I am also responsible for keeping up the house (which belongs to my husband) and the yard that it sits on while making sure he has his medication, taking him to doctor’s apts, etc. The Lord has blessed me with a good supply of energy but…as thy days so shall they strength be…" is sometimes really tested these days. : )
I will soon be helping to take care of my great granddaughter three days a week. She is a month old. : )
Thank you again, Joshua for your insights and willingness to take the time to share them with me.
Pat, if I could offer one more point that I learned from a woman who had been a medical doctor, built the hospital in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire, later Congo, and trained medical staff as she was the only doctor in the area for many miles. When the civil war broke open after the country received independence, the rebels came in her area and she was beaten, raped,and put on the firing line “for fun.” This went on for 7 months. She said that you could just feel evil all around her. But what the Lord spoke clearly to her during that time was,“Dr Helen, can you thank me for trusting you with this horrendous situation, even if you never understand why?” Now, please see that she was not to thank God for the evil. She said, which I agree, that you never thank God for evil. But she was asked if she could, not thank God for evil, but rather, if she could be thankful that the Lord knew that she would still love Him, even when she went through pain, rape and terror and never having a clue why. I remembered that when I was paralyzed in a firefightng accident. My life turned upside down and I could not stand the mental and physical anguish. It amazed me that the Lord trusted me with more than I would have thought that I could have ever handled. And He trusted me that I would not leave Him. He trusted me more than I would have trusted myself.
Much of life we don’t get, but can we still love Him? His sovereignty does involve us stepping up to bat at times. Faith isn’t resignation but actively knowing that He is the Truth even when we don’t get it. Pat, He is it. There is no one else to turn to. He hates evil more than we do and I think He is not pleased when things happen and we flippantly say, “Oh well, He is sovereign.”
I hope that I make sense. I don’t feel that I’ve communicated coherently!
@patgst Along with @Joshua_Elder and @Tim_Ramey and I believe Christ Himself, I weep for the evil that has been done in your life and pray with all of my heart and soul that God may give you strength, courage, hope and wisdom by His Spirit. May the Spirit of all comfort bring healing to your family through counselors, the Word, family, friends and community. And may God protect your family in the future from all such evil!
I have been slow to respond because I wanted to consider my response prayerfully and honor your willingness to ask such a heartfelt question. I am sure you are already familiar with much of what I will say. But I hope that as Peter said in 2 Peter that by way of reminder your heart will be encouraged
It is my opinion that the answer that God gives to the question of suffering is “Come to Me, all you who are thirsty” and “Take up My yoke and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves”. In other words, rather than answering why or how questions, in Job God answers with a manifestation of His presence and Jesus is God with us - Immanuel - who invites us to find rest in Him.
Jesus made it clear that we will suffer in this world, which is ruled by the evil one, but that He has overcome the world:
I John 5:19 - We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
John 16:33 - I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
The apostles also show this expectation of current suffering but future glory:
Romans 8:18 - Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
I Peter 1:3-9 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Tolkien, who saw the wreak and horror of World War I, wrote a beautiful description of Samwise Gamgee seeing a star peeping through the clouds while walking through the horrors of Mordor:
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
2 Peter 1:19 also compares the Gospel to a star shining in a dark place - We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
The only way I know to process suffering in my own life is to draw near to Christ and He will draw near to me - to weep at Christ’s feet and anoint His feet with my tears. To take my anger and frustration and fear to Him and allow the living Christ - the story of the Gospel - to be that star shining in the dark places of my life until the day dawns and every tear is wiped away.
As it says in Revelation 21 - And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
When I come to Christ it does not make the pain go away or make everything okay, but I do find peace and hope that the darkness I am suffering is not the end of the story. I think Psalms 22 is a beautiful example of how King David processed feeling abandoned by God and I think the Message translation captures the emotion well. To me, what is so significant is that David goes from questioning and accusing God to praising God without having an answer.
I personally believe that is what happens when we take our hurt and anger into God’s presence - we do not necessarily receive an answer - but we find hope and strength by His Spirit to cry out ‘Abba’ Father help me - I praise You - I trust You even now - be my strength, my hope, my guide-help! And then strength gives birth to strength and we declare that God will reign and all will be well and is well with our soul in that moment in God’s presence. And in this dark world I think this is a process that I need daily - even if not due to my own sufferings - in order to process the sufferings of others who are loved by God and yet in the midst of terrible things.
God, God . . . my God!
Why did you dump me
miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God
all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.
And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
they cried for your help and you gave it;
they trusted and lived a good life.
And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
“Let’s see how God handles this one;
since God likes him so much, let him help him!”
And to think you were midwife at my birth,
setting me at my mother’s breasts!
When I left the womb you cradled me;
since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
Then you moved far away
and trouble moved in next door.
I need a neighbor.
Herds of bulls come at me,
the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
like a herd of buffalo on the move.
I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
in the dirt.
Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
by every passerby.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
and then throw dice for my clothes.
You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
meat for the lions.
Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory, you sons of Jacob;
adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way
when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
he has been right there, listening.
Here in this great gathering for worship
I have discovered this praise-life.
And I’ll do what I promised right here
in front of the God-worshipers.
Down-and-outers sit at God’s table
and eat their fill.
Everyone on the hunt for God
is here, praising him.
“Live it up, from head to toe.
Don’t ever quit!”
From the four corners of the earth
people are coming to their senses,
are running back to God.
are falling on their faces before him.
God has taken charge;
from now on he has the last word.
All the power-mongers are before him
All the poor and powerless, too
Along with those who never got it together
Our children and their children
will get in on this
As the word is passed along
from parent to child.
Babies not yet conceived
will hear the good news—
that God does what he says.
Thank you so much for taking your time to reply! I have a lot to handle here and just got to reading your answer. This life is so full of questions isn’t it? My heart was touched by your compassion and words. I have to admit that sometimes I am more fatalistic and faithfilled. But in the end I always say, "The Lord give and He takes away because it is all His anyway. " I am trying to praise more and acknowledge that He is the Master. Many years ago he gave me the verse, “Be Sill and know that I am GOD.” And I’ve tried to speak it with different emphasis on each word. I am very wordy and a talker so that when that verse was give to me I even had to laugh. But it has become my life’s verse, too. Stillness is something that does not come easily to me. LOL But between your words and Joshua’s I have grown in peacefulness and acceptance. If I’ve gotten other responses I haven’t read them. With my hubby in Memory care, taking care of the house and yard and…JOY…now helping to take care of my new great granddaughter I’m pretty busy.
Thank you again! I will ponder yours and Joshua’s words more in the coming days and months. Holiness unto the Lord is our watch word and song…
@patgst Psalms 46:10 is indeed a beautiful verse. I remember when I worked at a youth camp it was our director’s favorite verse. She used to be in the habit of saying ‘let’s pray quickly’ and then one day someone shared with her that we should rest and be still in God’s presence. She said it changed her prayer and worship life to simply spend that time resting in God through prayer and worship rather than rushing through it.
I can sympathize with lawn work - I’ve often thought of getting a rock garden lawn to avoid it May the Lord bless your family and all that you do for His glory and your good and may your family grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus!