Job 1-2 & 42:12
Many recent research studies have been done on our generation- the Millennials- concerning our understanding of Christianity. Out of a book titled: Almost Christian came some staggering news. Many Millennials, who claim Christianity as their religion in America, only live with a form of the true Gospel. Kendra Dean, in her book (as well as others) has labeled this new wing of Almost Christianity- MTD– Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This means that in the mind of many of our generation, our faith is simply: being good, feeling good and acknowledging God’s existence. If these three things are in place, many consider you “a good Christian”. We have been raised in a Church Culture that believes, truly believes that once we’re saved all that God wants to do is make us Happy.
That type of theology may seem all well and good, but life challenges that belief all the time, because life is hard. No matter who you are, what religion you hold to- life is hard. This type of permeating “Christian belief” causes our theology of suffering to be horrendous. This issue alone is one of the main reasons many people walk away from their faith in college, especially after a tough life circumstance. It then serves to prove as an inoculation to the true Gospel, where the theology of suffering is laced within. Many in our generation are walking away from Jesus because their theology of suffering is non-existent. This morning, I desire to share with you a small portion of a better theology- one that has suffering within it. As we examine the life of Job, I believe we will be able to uncover a better theology of suffering. This could be a book full of content, so I am simply brushing the surface.
READ: Job 1:20-22; 42:12 and for a better understanding of the totality of Job’s sorrows, read the entire book
How can we have a better Theology of Suffering?
We can see Job went through a lot of craziness. His life was full of suffering. He was full of complaining in his life as well, but he was able to have a view of suffering that gave him hope. Even though he whined and wished that he had never been born, he was able to walk through suffering, as no one should be able to. Faith and Hope in the right Person can take a person through anything. When we look at Job’s theology of suffering through his very life, we begin to see some facts about the reality of suffering and why it exists. The first thing we need to do is:
I. Recognize: God is NOT Unaware of our Suffering (1:6-12)
When it comes to suffering, grief, pain and agony of the soul, there is a feeling of that creeps in that we are alone. We tend to feel deserted, lost and wandering. Yet, here in this story of Job, we see God is not unaware of our suffering. Some wrestle here knowing that God allowed the suffering of Job to transpire. Some might say he egged Satan on by bragging on Job. (I’m not sure I want God going around bragging on me) Yet, clearly God was aware and even protected Job. In fact, Satan could do nothing to Job without God’s permission. God knew Job wouldn’t stumble in the midst of this loss nor in the midst of this suffering. Satan’s accusation against Job was really an attack on God. We might paraphrase it like this: “The only reason Job fears You is because You pay him to do it. You two have made a contract: You protect him and prosper him as long as he obeys You and worships You. You are not a God worthy of worship! You have to pay people to honor You. God here is proving to Satan that His children love him for Who He is, not for what He does for them. God is aware of our suffering and even allows it because Suffering can be a catalyst for deepening a relationship and proof of it being real. It takes Job a long time to get there, but by the end of his story we can see this to be true. I’ve seen this to be true in my own life as well.
Think about a father who lives to make his child happy- and only happy. He never wants them to cry, or feel sad or disappointed. That father will go out of his way to make others miserable to make their child feel happy. That father will not discipline his child. That father would allow his child to rule the house. The child then will not love the Father for the Father, but will love the Father for what he gives. That is not a real relationship. There needs to be more than happiness in a relationship. Conflict and choice create a deep level of relationship that can’t be made otherwise. When a man and a woman get married, it is intimate because they chose each other. Jesus, in John 6:22-59 discusses this reality with the crowd that was following him simply to eat the free food he was miraculously making. He says something like: “You bodies were hungry and I gave you bread. If your spirits are hungry, the only way to get fed there is to eat my body, for I am the Bread of Life”. Many people stopped following him because he stopped giving them free bread and simply offered himself.
I know in my own life, when suffering was happening, trials came against me that God was aware of these trials. One such trial I was going through with my old boss in New York was one of the hardest things for me to go through, but God was aware, was with me and even taught me lessons about myself that I was able to shed ONLY due to the pain of the suffering I endured.
God is aware of our suffering and even allows it so we can grow closer to him, never to push us further away. Sin and suffering exist because we as humankind chose against God. He allowed those things to exist so we could see the better way, see hope and experience restoration. Next we need to see that through this
II. God Allows Suffering because He will use it Point us to Himself (2:10)
C.S. Lewis once stated: “God whispers to us in our pleasures…but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (The Problem of Pain). Think of ideas from Psychology for a moment. How can one distinguish what is good, without the bad? How can one understand what it is to prosper without there being the reality of despair? In Genesis, as was eluded to, God provided a choice. He doesn’t desire that we be forced into loving him, because that would be slavery, not love. Adam and Eve made the choice against God and that changed all of nature, even the planet. God said: “Because you’ve done this, there will be pain in childbirth and struggle to sow and reap crops” Sin ushered in suffering, both physically and in nature. The further we got from our relationship to God due to choosing more and more sin, the more suffering we brought upon ourselves. Suffering is a megaphone because God is saying: “You can see something is broken! This was not my intent. I can show you what is good. I can restore, I can heal!”
Job’s attitude in 2:10 shows a deep understanding of this. Here, Job is asking: “Why do we only expect God to allow good things? Why don’t we assume he may allow bad things?” This question, from the oldest book in the entire Bible has been a question ever since! Through the ages, this has been a question. Job literally lost everything in a matter of minutes. Person after person came in to report his losses at the exact same time. Many today would have been devastated and taken Job’s wife’s advice. Many would have lost hope, but Job did not. He was ticked, wished he had never been born and in doing so properly grieved…because in suffering we are allowed to grieve! This is not a message on sucking it up and dealing with pain. It is a message of hope declaring that God exists even in the midst of suffering and can and will use it to point to himself.
Job was walking in faith, where his wife and eventually we will see his “friends” were not walking in faith. Warren Weirsbe says of faith: Faith is living without scheming. It is obeying God in spite of feelings, circumstances, or consequences, knowing that He is working out His perfect plan in His way and in His time. Job had this faith. He in essence was not giving up on God because God didn’t give up on him. He didn’t allow his circumstances or his feelings to interfere with his faith. One thing we also need to remember is that our emotion will not sustain our devotion.
III. Remember: Jesus Suffered and Told us to Expect Suffering Too
God did not simply allow suffering to happen to us, he purposefully put himself into a position to suffer more than most ever would. (Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 5:8-9). If you were to review all other religions, Christianity is the only one where the God suffered for the people. If God didn’t suffer, he could not relate to us at all. Yet He did suffer and he did so for us. He began the restoration process on our behalf through his death. If He allows suffering, it would be unjust for Him to not experience it in order to relate well to His creation. What confuses me is the many who experience suffering and walk away from the faith when Christ suffered much more on our behalf. We are called to have Jesus as our example. Many choose the nice verses about Jesus where things seems happy and simple. Many neglect the whole Bible in it’s totality. We have a God who suffered and who suffers. We can grieve God the Holy Spirit by our actions and rejections. Why would we expect anything different or turn on him when we experience some suffering? Jesus even warned us to be expectant of suffering. (John 16:33). In this world, Jesus never once promised following him would make things easier. In fact many times He and Peter (who also was crucified) declared that following Jesus would mean more suffering. Suffering is a part of normal life. Christ promises to walk with us in our suffering. He does not abandon us. He has not given up on us.
Job, in chapter 2-41 was wicked upset. Life was hard and his friends weren’t helping. But chapter 42 came in his life! Maybe you are in a chapter 2-41 stage of life, but trust me as a Child of God, if you’ve believed in Christ, His death and Resurrection, chapter 42 is coming!
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Patient. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Patient. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.