“In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong?” Job 1:22
It appears that some people think of Job as one who had great patience. This seems to underestimate by quite a long way what he actually endured. Theodore Epp’s book on Job is entitled “Job: A man tried as gold.” In this title he expresses the fact that Job suffered not because of sin but in order to draw him more intimately into fellowship with God. Having the benefit of hindsight in the revelation of God we know why he suffered but Job didn’t know why at the time.
His friends came to comfort him with their well intentioned exhortations and their insistence that Job confess his grievous sin and repent of it. Instead of comforting their friend they made his misery and agony all the greater because there was no sin of which to repent. They attempted to counsel Job but because their theology was incorrect they were giving very unhelpful counsel.
All Job’s children had died along with their families – possibly including grandchildren. Now his “friends” were accusing him of being responsible due to some sin of which they had no knowledge but they were sure Job was hiding. Job was also accused of not allowing God to search his heart when in fact he had sat silently before God for seven days just for that purpose. No one stood with him. Even his wife told him to give up and drop dead.
The theology of Job’s friends seems to suggest that they thought that God only allows evil doers to suffer. Such is not the case and we need to be careful that we don’t even inadvertently think so. After all, what wrong did Jesus do? What wrong did the prophets of the Old Testament do? What wrong did John the Baptist do? What wrong did Paul and the other apostles do?
It is possible that we might use that way of thinking to justify our inaction in helping others who are in poverty, pain or some other kind of suffering. It eases our conscience if we think that they must in some way deserve it – except when it us ourselves who are suffering. One of Job’s friends told him that even the severe agony that he was experiencing was less than he deserved. That is of course true for him and all of us but thanks to the cross of Jesus we have been forgiven and we will not receive the judgment we deserve.
The opposite is true as well. We must not accuse God of being unfair or that His motives in allowing pain and suffering are wrong. No one suffered more or experienced pain and agony more than the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and that was for our benefit, not His. Anything we may suffer is only a taste of what He endured.
The book of Job gives us a reason why righteous people go through suffering, trials and tribulations, some very severe, and it also goes some way to answering the question of why evil seems to prosper. We must always keep the eternal perspective before us. We won’t see total justice in this world but we can be assured by God’s own word that justice will be done for everyone. Calvary’s cross screams that fact out.