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“But by means of their suffering, He rescues those who suffer. For He gets their attention through adversity. God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food.” Job 36:15-16.
Why do people suffer? Why does God allow hardships to good people? Why would God let you or somebody you know go through something bad even though you are reading your bible, praying, worshiping, and going to church regularly? We all know God has the power to stop all bad things from happening so why do bad things happen to people?
I have been reading and studying the book of Job here recently and have gained a lot of encouragement throughout Job’s story. In the beginning of Job’s story, he was a man of great wealth; he had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 jenny donkeys. He was the richest man in all the area; he had 7 sons and 3 daughters, a wife, and many servants. He feared the Lord, and God thought very highly of him. In fact in Job 1:8, God calls him the finest man in all the earth, blameless,and a man of complete integrity. Job had it going on and was highly revered.
One day the devil showed up and God asked if he’d seen his great servant Job. In 1:9-11, Satan replied, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
So, the Lord allowed Satan to test Job. He took everything he had away from him. Killed all of Job’s farm animals and servants. He killed all the sheep and the sheep herders. Satan even killed all of Job’s children leaving him with nothing. To top it off, Satan sent a dose of the boils to cover Job from his head to his feet. Owning my own ranch animals, it would be a huge disaster to lose my whole herd of animals and becoming a father, I couldn’t think of anything worse than losing a child, let alone all 10 of them. Yet through all of this, Job’s response was to fall to the ground and worship (Job 1:20)! His wife asked him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity?” His reply was “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”
In all your hardships, sufferings, and trials what is your first response? Is it the same as Job’s? Is the first thing you do fall to the ground, praising and worshipping God or is it to run a million different scenarios through your head and start worrying about the future?
Through the middle of Job’s story he has several friends come and falsely accuse him of receiving punishment from God because of his sinning. He begins to ask God why all of this is happening to him because he was living the best he thought he could. Job didn’t have any hidden sins he needed to repent from. He worshipped the Lord and followed the laws. He worked hard and cared for his children. He was a man of integrity and was living up to par as far as he could tell. He couldn’t figure out why he was being punished bad enough to lose everything he had. He tells his friends he has done nothing wrong, not that he was perfect, but he didn’t do anything to deserve the punishment he was receiving. He couldn’t figure out why God was punishing him so much.
The Lord replies in Job 38:2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?”
Then God begins to question Job in chapters 38-41 and makes him think. Who created all the earth, the seas, the mountains, the sky, the ground, the grass and the dirt? What keeps the seas in their boundaries, who controls the rain, the snow, and the wind? Who created morning and night, darkness and light? Placed the stars in the sky and makes the sun shine? Who created all the animals and determined their gestation? Who can control forest fires, hurricanes, tsunamis, drought, and floods? Who is in charge? Humans? Do each of us have as much knowledge and control as He?
Our reply should be the same as Job’s in chapter 42 verse 2, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” He continues in verse 3 and says “I was talking about things far too wonderful for me.” We don’t know Gods plans. We don’t think like the Lord thinks. He is far too wonderful for us to fathom.
Job 23:8-10 “I go east, but He is not there. I go west, but I cannot find Him. I do not see Him in the north, for He is hidden. I look to the south, but He is concealed. But He knows where I am going. And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”
Just like in this verse, even when we can’t see the outcome, and we don’t know why we are having to deal with the hardships and challenges we are going through. When we can’t seem to find the reason. When we are finally at our breaking point and begin to wonder “why”, we can find great encouragement if we reflect on these verses. We can’t fathom or understand what the Lord has in store, what he is thinking, or what the big picture is, but what we do know is He is in charge and has a plan. We can’t control the hand we are dealt, but we can control how we respond. The Lord isn’t picking on you or making you pay. He is trying to grab your attention and lead you away from destruction. Maybe He is purifying you like gold; making you hard so you can help somebody else with a similar struggle later in life. Whatever the outcome the Lord has in store, know that God has a plan. He is in control and like in these verses His plan is to bless us beyond what we deserve. With His forgiveness and gift of eternity with Him, if we accept Jesus as our savior and believe in Him what else do we need? If God is for us who can ever be against us? Keep searching, keep reaching, and keep believing. Put your trust and hope in the Lord and let Him do His work!