I have been intrigued with why a good God allows good people to suffer.
So recently I chose to study the Book of Job as one of my required Old Testament courses in my seminary program.
Throughout the book, Job struggled to understand why he, a righteous man, had suddenly lost everything including his entire estate, his health, the respect of his community, and every one of his 10 beloved children.
He simply could not fathom why he deserved such a horrible fate.
Job and his four companions adhered to a reward and retribution theology where they believed that God blesses and rewards the righteous, obedient, faithful. And punishes those who are disobedient and sinful.
Job had become incredibly confused. For while his theology had worked when he assumed he was being rewarded for his innocence, by his experiencing abundant blessings, he now struggled to understand why he, a pious man, had now lost everything.
Job’s companions concluded that Job was being punished because he had sinned. This was the one explanation that conformed to their theology. And the only way they could explain his current fate and hold on to their beliefs.
Yet Job continued to defend his innocence and integrity throughout his ordeal. Therefore, to his way of thinking there was no way that sin could possibly be the explanation for why he was walking through such trials.
Throughout the book, Job and his companions continued to debate and argue about why he was suffering. And as their debates dragged on, Job lamented and grieved his losses. He was totally bewildered. He sought answers. Desperately crying out for his suffering to end and to be done with.
He began to challenge God, demanding explanations.
In the epilogue God finally appears out of the whirlwind to speak to Job and his companions.
God never provides Job with specific answers to his questions about suffering.
But God does reveal His expansive and inexplicable imagination, how He loves to create with a joyful abandon. Sharing His pure delight in all of creation and in every single being He creates.
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” (Job 5:9)
So oftentimes, the what and how and when of God’s creations, such as when He created the ostrich or the hippo, is incomprehensible to us.
Only God, in His infinite wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, can fully comprehend all things. Why things are created the way they are. Why things happen they way they do. Or why He allows good people to suffer.
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12:13)
In contrast, due to our limited human capacity, we are simply unable to discern the why behind every twist and turn.
Humans will have troubles and face trials. Our lives will be interrupted by loss. We will suffer. And just like Job, we will often be forced to sit in the mystery about why things happen the way they do.
Never getting complete answers about why good people suffer, and the wicked often seem to prosper.
Though Job never does receive a full explanation to his question about why he had to suffer and things continued to remain a mystery, he finally arrived at a place where he was able to sit in the uncertainty and the not knowing.
Job had transformed to where he could trust God in the midst of both abundance and hardship.
Comforted to know that while he may never know all the answers, God does.
Resting in the knowledge that all of Creation is in God’s immensely capable hands.
Assured that God lovingly creates and passionately cares for every aspect of His creation.
And He deeply desires the very best for us.
Five Minute Friday Prompt: DONE
Photo credits: Sergee Bee and Wade Lambert, from Unsplash