In one sitting, I read straight through the entire book of Job (in the Old Testament). It really is the only way to read it. If you read a chapter here or there, or a few verses, you’ll miss the whole meaning.
I read it in the New Living Translation. It made it easy to read and captured the sarcasm really well. 🙂 Here it is for you:
It was fascinating to watch Job’s friends try to explain WHY Job was suffering.
Side note: I personally have found that “why” questions are not often answered by God. I know that sounds funny, but that’s been my observation.
In the Bible, God seems more inclined to answer “how” and “what” and “who” questions. But when it comes to explaining why things happen a certain way, it seems that God is often silent. I think it is likely that God knows we would not understand if he tried to explain.
Try explaining heart surgery to a rabbit.
In Job, we get to see something important about God.
Job is suffering, terribly. Job’s friends try to end his suffering, partly because Job is making them very uncomfortable. They think, “If kind, righteous, generous, wise, faithful Job is suffering, then what hope is there for them?”
Job’s friends want to fix his suffering. Immediately! Their solution is to explain to Job how God works in peoples’ lives. (Except they were wrong.)
They were sure that if a person does “X” then God will do “Y.” A formula. A sure thing. Almost a predictable way to control God.
They drew false conclusions that if a person avoids sin, then God is obligated to give that person a wonderful, happy life. No pain. No suffering. Just success, health and wealth. This is the deal. This is how God is supposed to behave.
Do this, and God will…
Two big problems with this kind of thinking.
1. God is never obligated to act a certain way just because we determined that he must. That puts us above God, dictating and expecting God to live by *our* rules, by our way of thinking. It makes us the King and God our servant. Pretty upside down.
2. It gives us a false sense of control over our lives. To believe, “This is how God works: if you avoid sin, live a good life, then God abundantly blesses you and keeps you from any suffering.”
Sometimes we’re tempted to think this way, to set up in our minds expectations about how God should behave.
We think, “Even if life is unpredictable (earthquakes, financial meltdowns, cancer, etc.), I can be sure of a protected, good life if I live well before God. He will take care of me and make my life go smoothly.”
If “X” then “Y” — life all figured out, with us in control, and God obligated to do what we expect.
In reality, if you love God, seek to follow him and honor him with your life, you also might experience heartache, disease, wars, floods, strained relationships, temptations, financial troubles, and more.
Yes, it’s possible that your actions might have contributed to some of your problems. If you were hateful toward someone, it might explain a strained relationship.
However, life’s problems are not necessarily due to sin on our part. If our car breaks down, it is not likely due to sin.
If you have put your faith in Jesus, your sin is not being held against you by God. There is no such thing as “bad karma.” You are not under his judgment and condemnation. Your sin has been paid for by Jesus.
Life’s troubles are often because…we’re alive.
They come to us just as they do to anyone. So “Why me?” is best answered, “Why not me?” My dad had a great line for whenever we complained. He’d say, “Life is tough all over. Why should you be spared?” He had a point.
Yet, as believers, we go through life and difficulties differently.
In the midst of suffering, we get to know that God is aware and with us. God’s love can sustain us. His Word can guide us, encourage us, give us a hope. We can have a peace that those who go through the same kind of hardship don’t experience. We know and relate to a loving God who hears us and upholds us.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is an everlasting Rock.” Is 26:3
We can rest under his wisdom, his love. This is God who set the stars in their appointed movement. He created laws of physics that remain constant on earth and throughout the galaxy. He created and replenishes animal and plant life throughout the earth and deep in the oceans…all of it fine-tuned, intricate, precise, planned, self-sustaining.
He’s capable of directing our lives and intimately relating to us as we go to him.
God is better than a formula, if “x” then “y.” We can let him decide how life is to be and how to get us through it!
“I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Ps 63:2