Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 4, 2015

refreshed with the thought

There is someone in your life who elicits thoughts of man from long ago, Job.  The person that comes to mind has gone through a great tragedy … or several such tragedies.  In our minds, it is very difficult to emotionally rationalize how so much pain has befallen this person who we love.  Often, when we try to comfort those who have just experienced deep pain, our words seem so shallow.  Over the last week, I have read and re-read the first two chapters of Job with the thoughts of giving clarity to the events. But the more that I read, the more I am convinced that the depth of the tragedy and the depth of the interaction between God and Satan is beyond me.  And that’s okay because God knew what He was doing, and He still does!

Job was the first of five poetry books in the Old Testament.  Some believe it is the Bible’s oldest book, and it could be dated as early as 2000 B.C. Job was a righteous man, and man of wealth.  Even a quick read of chapters one and two of this book can cause us to feel great compassion for Job and ask, “why did so much pain have to be poured out on one man?” Job lost his wealth, his family and his health.  Further reading shows that even those friends, who came to comfort him, gave anything but comfort.  This book may bring to mind the age-old question, “Why do the righteous suffer if God is really loving and supremely powerful”?

Early in the first chapter of Job, we catch a glimpse of a heavenly discussion between God and Satan 

The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1:7-12 (ESV)

Then, in the course of one day, Job lost his children and his wealth. Can you even imagine? Then in chapter two there is another God-Satan conversation.

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Job 2:3-6 (ESV)

Satan then struck Job with sores from the soles of his feet all the way to the crown of his head. Wow! And his wife told him to curse God and die.  I can easily see how some people could say, “Why would the Lord allow this?”

For the last two Sundays, I’ve heard our pastor say, “God always has a better way.” Emotionally, it is sometimes hard to accept that. But He does! It is obvious (just look at the Scripture above) that God chose to let Job endure deep trials, but not without purpose. God may use trials to teach us, to prepare us for ministry to others or for whatever other purpose He chooses. But He never walks us into suffering and pain without caring or without control.  We would never choose the road of suffering, but “God always has a better way.” Moving from the first two chapters of Job to the last chapter helps put God’s grace and care on display as Job’s fortune is restored, and God gives him a new family.

I haven’t been able (or tried) to answer the cosmic questions of suffering and pain and why, but I have been refreshed with the thought that God is in control, and He always has a better way. And if that way is suffering … He is sovereign and knows what He is doing.  Accepting and trusting the preceding nine words is more important than knowing the “why.”

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