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"JOB"

endurance through suffering

'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.'

Job 1:21

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chalk and charcoal on black Canson 160gsm paper

Job is depicted as an old and hardworking ox who has persevered through much suffering. You can see the pain in his eyes as he earnestly brings his questions before God and yet, despite that pain, he still praises God for who He is.

The story of Job raises perhaps one of the hardest questions we face, both as believers and non-believers of God. Job was a faithful man who, through no fault of his own, and for reasons unknown to himself, endured wave after wave of misfortune. After he loses his family and friends, his material possessions, his health and everything else he has in this world, he finally asks God, ‘WHY is this happening to me?’ How could an all-powerful, good and loving God allow terrible suffering to happen to ‘good’ people? 

We see from Jesus’ life, suffering and death that human suffering is not incompatible with God’s goodness. If God is sovereign, good and faithful, then suffering must occur because it is a part of His plan for our lives. Our inability to comprehend God’s purpose for our suffering is based primarily on the assumption that God wants us to live a comfortable and easy life. But God is not primarily concerned with our comfort or happiness. Instead, His main focus is our character and spiritual condition. We usually want to avoid pain at all costs, but God can use it. For example:

  • It can force us to seek and depend on God because we have come to the end of ourselves and have nowhere else to turn

  • The comfort we receive from God during times of trials and tribulations can prepare and equip us to share our faith with others undergoing similar pain

  • Our sufferings in this lifetime can help us to see this imperfect world is not our forever home. It stirs our hearts and longings towards the new heaven and earth, where there will be an end to all tears, suffering, sickness and pain

 

God has not promised us a trouble-free, painless life, but He has promised that He will be with us every step of the way. ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10).

 

Interestingly, throughout the story, God never answers Job directly until right at the end of the book. Even then, He does not answer Job in the way we expect Him to and does not give an explanation for why righteous people suffer. Instead of the ‘why’ of Job’s sufferings, the focus is on the ‘who’ - Who is God that He allowed this to happen? Who is Job to question God’s plans and methods? Paraphrased, the question becomes, does everything I know about God’s character and His past faithfulness to me, point to a God who is loving, good and faithful? Can I trust that God has a purpose for my suffering even if I can’t see the whole picture yet and don’t know what that purpose is at the moment? As Elizabeth Elliot, no stranger to suffering, once said, 'Why doesn't God do something about suffering? He has, He did, He is, and He will. Suffering is never for nothing.'

The Bible Project also have lots of great resources on the story of Job:  https://bibleproject.com/guides/book-of-job/

 

God's Response to Job's Questions about suffering: 

https://bibleproject.com/articles/gods-gives-job-tour-wise-world/

or you can watch the video here:

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