Posted by: Mark | August 2, 2010

Lessons from Job VI

This is a series and the first post is here.

Lessons from Job for when we go through trial

6. God is always in control and suffering comes from Him

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence. Job 1.12

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
      and I will be naked when I leave.
   The L
ord gave me what I had,
      and the L
ord has taken it away.
   Praise the name of the L
ord!” Job 1.21

“All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” Job 2.6

But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2.10

But it is God who has wronged me, capturing me in his net. Job 19.6

So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42.8

Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. Job 42.11

even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud 2 Cor. 12.7

I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. Isaiah 45.7

Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it? Amos 3.6b

This point for some people may be something new. If it is new to you, you probably want to take some time and read and re-read the verses above. Is it true that suffering comes from God? But God is love? How can suffering come from Him?

A common explanation for how this happens is that God lets suffering happen. This is often defended from Job in that God tells satan that he can go ahead and let Job suffer. However, when this defense comes from Job it shows that someone has not read through the whole chapter in Job. Towards the end of the chapter we read that Job says it was God who gave and it is God who has taken away. It was God who has killed his 7 sons and 7 daughters, all his servants (bar 4), his 7,000 sheep, his 3,000 camels, his 500 teams of oxen, and his 500 female donkeys. Job says it was God that done it and we read in the very next verse that in all of this Job did not sin. By letting satan persecute Job in this way God was responsible and in control – He was not an innocent bystander.

There are two stages we must go through when we discover a new truth in God’s word. And the order of these truths I have learned is very important. The first stage is that we must accept it. If the truth is in the scripture and is plain to see then we must accept it. The second stage is that we, as cerebral people, must work to understand it. This second stage will take different methods and depths in all of us but scriptural study of truth is not an optional extra for Christians – it is a must.

This particular truth is one that is tough to understand as humans. How can God cause suffering when He is so loving? How could God do this to Job? Or perhaps circumstance dependent – how can God do this to me? To be honest I am not sure I am the person to answer these questions. The bible is a difficult book and I personally am only working through stage two with this truth. I have personal explanations in my head for how all this ties together but at this time I don’t feel they are mature enough to write down.

However, I think there is an amazing encouragement that we can draw from this truth if we accept it. To see this truth lets look at the what I used to believe to contrast it with this truth. For most of my early life I believed that God merely reacted to suffering. I believed that He was in charge of the universe but that suffering happened because of people and satan and God merely protected His people from it or sustained them through it. God was a reactive God in this truth. In this scenario we can have faith that God will be there for us but not that He is truly in charge. Not that He can truly stand by His word that all things work together for good because He is merely reacting to circumstances – He is not controlling them. However, if we realize that God is in control, even of the suffering in the world, then we can place our faith in someone that truly deserves that faith. Yes this does take us as humans into a road where we will face difficult questions about why God allows such awful suffering in the world but who said the Christian faith should only consist of easy questions. God is a loving, just and all controlling God. As humans we live in a 2 dimensional reality compared to God’s infinite dimensions. We cannot always explain how God works – we just can’t. That is where faith comes in. Again this is not to say that we shouldn’t try to understand but a healthy recognition of the bigness and mysteriousness of God is healthy.

But this truth is in scripture. God is in control. Even of suffering. If we accept it, we can have much greater joy in our sufferings knowing that the God, that we trust, is still in control, even at these times. And He knows what He is doing. With this in mind we will be able to say with Job:

Though he slay me I will hope in Him Job 13.15a

I just read this quote from John Piper (can you tell I subscribe to the Desiring God blog) and thought I would include it here:

The painful things that come into our lives are not described by God as accidental or as out of his control. This would be no comfort. That God cannot stop a germ or a car or a bullet or a demon is not good news; it is not the news of the Bible. God can. And ten thousand times he does. But when he doesn’t, he has his reasons. And in Christ Jesus they are all loving. We are taught this sovereignty so that we will drink it in till it saturates our bones.

Taken from “A sweet and bitter providence” pg 136-37

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Responses

  1. “Job says it was God that done it and we read in the very next verse that in all of this Job did not sin. By letting satan persecute Job in this way God was responsible and in control…”
    Such a solid truth yet so often, unlike Job, we fail to ‘not sin’ and get mad at the circumstances instead.
    We prayed about a certain situation. God answered and removed us from it. We know we are exactly where he wants us. But the getting from ‘there’ to ‘here’ was unpleasant and difficult. I suppose like Paul it may be to keep pride in check. It is the getting THROUGH it that is difficult and where we often trip up and sin by blaming God and getting mad about the circumstances that HE CHOOSES for us.
    Thank you for posting this series.


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