I’m convinced that no one in history other than Christ himself suffered worse than Job. Losing all his possessions and his family, then losing his health and being in constant pain for months (Job 7:3). Not to mention being rejected by his own wife (2:9) and lectured by his three friends (Chapters 2-31). That’s enough to make a man want to die.
I think there are two big ways you can approach the book of Job. The first is to look at it first person, from Job’s perspective. To use it as example of what it means to suffer as a believer, in the event of non-sin. Job after all, is declared righteous (1:1).
The second is to look at it from God’s perspective, thereby tackling the very difficult question: Why does Job have to endure suffering when he has not sinned? This post will try and answer this second point.
The summary of the book of Job is as follows: A guy who is considered righteous and also happens to be incredibly wealthy, loses everything. His family, his money and his health. The rest of the book is then a dialogue between Job, his four friends and God on why God took everything from him.
The answer to that question above comes near the end, when Elihu, the youngest of Job’s friends, basically corrects everyone and tells them all what’s really happening. He says this in Job 32:2:
“Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.”
The young gun nailed it. Job was in the right because he was blameless but he was in the wrong once he used that blamelessness to justify himself. Job was declaring that he did not deserve what happened to him but Elihu corrects this faulty assumption. God himself, does the same thing in chapters 38-41.
What blows my mind is what God speaks to Job. “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:8-9)
God basically says “I don’t need a reason. I’m God. You’re not.”
God tells Job from chapters 38 till 41 that unless he can create the earth and control everything in it he should basically just shut his mouth. Why? Because God’s sovereignty and might displayed when He created the world, is evidence of not just His power but His righteousness.
Eliphaz, the first of Job’s friends to speak said this in Job 5:16-17.
“Can a mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error”
That’s scary. Even the angels aren’t pure in comparison with God. What Eliphaz says is exactly the point God is making. No one, other than God can demand or ask of God anything because… He is not God.
So God’s right because He just is? Yes.
Even if God had chosen to not restore Job’s fortunes and bless him, God would still have been good. He still would have been righteous.
I believe this is the great truth of the book of Job. It is far better when God is control, than when man is. God tells the oceans waters to stop at the shores and they do. God tells the sky to bring rain and it does. God speaks and in a moment Job’s fortunes are restored to him twofold.
If Job was doing the choosing, he probably would have opted out of all the suffering but then he would have missed out on what lay at the end. Not more possessions, or hot daughters, or money but a closer relationship and greater understanding of the living God.
God is always in control. When things don’t go our way there may not be a good answer other than that God is sovereign.
As a general rule of thumb, anytime we feel that we know better than God, we should remember Job’s words:
“I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can bet thwarted… I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2 & 5-6)