Heroes Of The Faith: Job and Suffering

 Job 6:6  Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

When I first started studying my Bible over 40 years ago I thought Genesis was the oldest Book in the Bible. Now Genesis does report on the oldest events. Genesis – written by the Prophet Moses – tells us all about the Creation of the world as our God tells it. But Genesis is not the oldest Book. The oldest of the 66 Books in this Book of Books is the Book called simply “Job”. Job was written around 1500 B.C. I think it’s fitting that Job is the oldest book, because the Book of Job discussed the oldest problem that man has.

The problem of suffering.

People in America today view God as entirely a God of love. They quote Scripture like:

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE.

Now that is absolutely true. God is love – but God is also HOLY and JUST and POWERFUL. God is God. If people view God as ONLY love then that causes a problem. The problem is this:

If God is LOVE then why does a loving God allow SUFFERING?

When you study the Book of Job you find something out. God is NOT only love. In fact, God not only allows suffering – but sometimes He DIRECTS it.

1 Job Loved God Before All Things. The Book of Job begins with a man named Job. Now Job was a wealthy man, with a prosperous family. Job was proof of what Jesus said – you remember Jesus don’t you? Jesus said:

Matthew 6:32-33 (ESV) For {unbelievers} seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Christian Philosopher C.S. Lewis put it this way, saying:

Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither”.

Job aimed at Heaven. He sought the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and God covered him up with blessings. Job had everything – and more besides. Yet the Bible says of Job:

Job 1:1 …. that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and {turned away from} evil.

Job loved God and hated evil. God loved Job and hated evil. And then one day the greatest Evil of all entered into the Presence of God. That Evil was the Devil. The Devil loves to slither in anytime things are going well.

  • Noah builds an Ark to save the world – then gets nekkid drunk (I meant to spell it and say it that way) on his vineyard right after they make landfall.

  • Moses leads Israel for forty years through the wilderness, then the Devil leads him to lose his temper making him die with the unbelievers on the wrong side of the Jordan.

  • King David is defeating enemy after enemy in the power of God, then the Devil encourages him to “number his troops” taking the glory of God to himself.

  • Jesus chooses 12 Apostles – but one Judas Iscariot is a Devil

I could go on and on.

Anytime there is good, there is evil.

Anytime we start making progress the Devil gets hold of somebody and makes a mess.

Job is doing wonderful things for God. He loves the Lord. The Devil comes into the Presence of God.

Job 1:7  And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

The Devil is not sleeping nor is he retreating. He keeps moving forward. He walks up and down “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may DEVOUR” (1 Peter 5:8). He is never at rest. A fallen Arch Angel, he does not weary of sowing evil and darkness. He looks for and finds the worst in man in the best of places, whether it be Congress or the Church, the White House or the Crack House. The Devil seeks and as Johnny Appleseed sowed apple trees the Evil One sows bad trees.

Job 1:8  And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

God starts “bragging” on Job. Oh that we would all live lives that God would brag on us! We get God’s attention for the good when we love Him and obey Him. Job loved God and hated evil. Satan, look at Job! See Him! But then Job challenges God.

“Of course he follows You. You made a hedge about him. You blessed his works.”

Put forth Your hand and curse him and he will curse you.”

Now here we learn something about pain. God does not touch His child to curse him, but ALLOWS Satan to do so. God said:

Job 1:12  And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Satan could touch Job’s STUFF but not Job’s SELF. He could take away all of his things, but not physically hurt Job. Job lost it all in one day. What happened next? Did he curse God? No, for Job loved God. The Bible says:

Job 1:20-21  Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,  [21]  And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Job did not love God to get stuff. Job loved God IN SPITE of the stuff. The stuff didn’t define Job – GOD defined Job.

But it gets worst. In round 2 the Devil comes back to God and, since Job did not falter, the Devil decided to (as Chef Emeril Lagasse says) “Take it up a notch”. Job did not falter, so the Devil tells the Lord:

Job 2:5  But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and HE WILL CURSE THEE TO THY FACE.

The Lord allows the Devil to bring disease on Job but says “do not take his life”.

Job didn’t deserve this – but deserve has nothing to do with it.

God is God and God can do what He will with what He has created.

Ezekiel 18:4 (ESV) Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

Psalm 100:3 (ESV) Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Romans 14:8 (ESV) For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

It is the height of arrogance and sin to believe that we have “rights” before God. God is our right. God owns us – not we ourselves. And He can do what He wants with what He owns.

God allowed Satan to bring disease on Job. How did Job react? His shrew of a wife told him “Curse God and die”. Job replied:

Job 2:10  But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? IN ALL THIS DID NOT JOB SIN WITH HIS LIPS.

2 What The Devil Could Not Do, Job’s “Friends” Did.

 It is interesting that “Satan” (שָׂטָן satan, “Accuser”) is mentioned fourteen times (14) in the Book of Job – but only in the first two chapters.

Lucifer’s name – “Satan” – means “Accuser Of The Brethren”

In Revelation 12:10 we learn that Satan “is the accuser of our brothers and sisters in Christ, accusing them before God day and night”.

Christ Jesus makes intercession for us.
The Holy Spirit makes prays for us.
Satan on the other hand ACCUSES us before God DAY AND NIGHT.

Job is in horrible suffering, a suffering he did not deserve. Satan has afflicted him. And Job cries out under the suffering. He says:

Job 3:3-4  Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.  [4]  Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.

a Now It Is Quite Normal To Cry Out When Suffering, When In Pain, When In Loss. King David was a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22), someone of whom God said he is the Apple of My eye (Psalm 17:8). Yet even David cried out in times of suffering:

Psalm 13:1-2 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

When we suffer there are times when – as the suffering seems overwhelming – that we may even wish we had never been born. We cry when we hurt. God understands this. God the Son came to this earth specifically to suffer for us. The Bible says that:

1 Peter 3:18 (ESV) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit,

Jesus suffered. Jesus suffered in Gethsemane, KNOWING that He came to die for us. Knowing it! He prayed:

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

Jesus knew why He was on the earth.
He knew why He had to suffer.
He knew why He had to be whipped.
He knew why He had to be beaten.
He knew why He had to be shamed.
He knew why He had to be nailed to that tree of Calvary.
He knew why He had to thirst.
He knew why He had to be abandoned.
He knew why He had to die between two thieves.
He knew why He was forsaken.
He knew why He cried “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabathani”
– My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me.
He knew.

And the Bible says that …

Hebrews 5:8 (NASB) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

But Job didn’t know why he was suffering – and neither did Job’s friends.

Jesus knowingly suffered and cried out in the midst of His suffering in the midst of unloving accusers. Job unknowingly suffered and cried out in the midst of His suffering in the midst of unloving “friends”. Rather than comfort Job and direct his gaze Godward – to the Source of Loving Mercy – his friends begin to accuse him.

As Dr. John Piper wrote:

Job cannot see any reason now for why he should have ever been given life or why his life should be preserved if there is going to be so much misery. And so he protests that the day of his birth should never have been. And of course this is a protest against God, because, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away” (1:21).”

b It Is NOT NORMAL To Add To Someone’s Suffering By Being “Satan”. We who have experienced the mercy of God’s salvation should be encouraging and pointing those in pain to the Lord Who loves them. We should not be adding to their pain.

 I remember back in 1983 when my left leg was crushed in a motorcycle accident. As I lay in the hospital room struggling against the pain – struggling to breath – my Commander and my Supervisor came to visit. As soon as the Commander started talking he began to chew me out. “Didn’t I tell you motorcycles were dangerous? Why didn’t you listen to me?” He went on for about a minute when my Supervisor – a GS 20 something named Mr Greenhill – stepped forward. He grabbed my Commander’s shoulder, pulled him back, and said “Stop that! He doesn’t need this right now!”

And I didn’t.

His presence did not help my situation. He hurt me more by rebuking me, much more than the leg itself hurt. As I lay in the bed bewildered by my accident:

I had followed all the rules.
I was going the speed limit.
I was properly equipped.
I was an exemplary airman, decorated many times.
I was a Christ follower who loved the Lord.
I didn’t feel that is “deserved” any of what I was going through.
And I certainly didn’t deserve a “dressing down” in the midst of my suffering.
I needed love and mercy.
I needed someone to redirect my eyes upward, to remind me that God loved me.
And that God is in control even in the midst of the suffering.

Rather than minister to Job his friends begin to condemn him. HE must be the problem. His suffering must be because HE was not a good servant of the Lord. One friend said:

Job 4:7-8  Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?  [8]  Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

The implication is “Job, you are getting your just desert. The innocent do not perish”. Is that true?

WAS JESUS INNOCENT? Did He not PERISH on that Cross?

The innocent do suffer. Babies die because bad parents shake them. Drunkards drive cars and kill law abiding citizens. Landfills are full of little arms and legs, ripped from a selfish mothers womb. The innocent suffer, and Job is innocent. Job cries out in his suffering:

Job 6:4-5  For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.  [5]  Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?

Job knows his heart. He knows that he is in a right state with God. He knows that he has tried to honor God. And yet God’s arrows are striking him. And Job doesn’t know why.

He needs friends to lift him up to the Lord in the midst of this suffering. But all his friends do is either sit silently, or else accuse Job of doing something to cause this horrible state. Every week I publish a prayer list with addresses and phone numbers. Are you encouraging the suffering?

The Bible tells us that God’s people – His Church – are to be in harmony and love, so much so that …

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 …. the members should have the same care one for another.  [26]  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

We are called to love those suffering, not to take the part of Satan in accusing. We are to – even in the midst of suffering – to remember that …

1 Corinthians 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

3 What Is The Proper Response To Suffering? How Do We Minister To The Suffering? As Job suffers and his friends find fault he tells them:

Job 6:6  Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

I love that statement! Job speaks of the “tasteless white of an egg” and refuses to hear his “friends”. Think about this, an egg has three parts – the shell, the white, and the yolk. What gives the egg flavor is the YOLK, the part that is in the center. You can cook with the white of the egg, but generally you have to add something to it to make it more edible (salt, sugar, something).

It is the YOLK in the middle that gives flavor, the BROKEN YOLK that flavors the whole.

When someone is suffering they do not need our …

They need the Center of the Egg broken, infused through the yolk.
They need Jesus Christ Who died for them.
They need to know the love of God, and know that He has not abandoned them.
They need Jesus.
They need you to be Jesus to them.

Adrian Rogers said:

As a young boy in Florida, I loved to collect coconuts and sell them. One day while up a tree, I was using my right hand to disconnect a coconut when the palm frond let go. I fell on the grass, but my left arm fell on the sidewalk. It was a bad situation. My brother was there, and he saw what happened to me. As I was lying there, having fallen, what did I need? Well, I didn’t need a lecture. I didn’t need my brother to go around to the community and say, “Did you hear about Adrian?” I didn’t need for him to come along and shoot me to put me out of my misery. What I needed was restoration.”

Those who are suffering need to love of God. They need our love and support. They need Jesus! May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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