How Are We To Understand And Respond To Suffering?

For example:

  • A friend’s twelve year old boy dies of cancer.
  • An unforeseen change in tax laws suddenly wipes out an established business.

Why do people suffer? Is it the result of sin? Circumstances? Bad luck? Evil forces winning over good?

 

How much suffering is self-inflicted through our sloth, greed, ignorance, or stupidity?

 

It seems that a considerable amount of the pain we suffer happens at random. Few would disagree that life, taken at face value, appears to be unfair. (Ecclesiastes 7:15; 8:14)

 

In my recent reflections on suffering from the Book of Job, five observations emerged:

 

1. In the struggle between good and evil, God may allow the righteous to suffer without their knowledge of the issues at stake. (Job, chapters 1, 2)

 

2. Because our lives are expendable for the glory of God, He is the One who determines their quality and duration. (Job 1:9-20; 2:6-10; 42:10-15)

 

3. Our friends may well misjudge the cause of our suffering by failing to comprehend God’s inexplicable purposes at work behind the scenes. (Job 42:7, 8)

 

4. How we respond to suffering reveals the quality of our faith. (Job 1:21, 22; 13:15; 23:8-12)

 

5. This side of eternity, God may choose not to explain the reasons for our suffering. He gave none to Job. (Deuteronomy 29:29; Ecclesiastes 8:17)

 

HOW THEN ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND AND RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

 

Certainly Job’s response to the destruction of his family and fortune is worthy of our consideration. Upon learning of his losses, Job

 

Fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

 

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:20-22)

 

 

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