What is the biblical view of suffering? Every human being has already asked himself this crucial question: ” If God exists, and if He is good, loving and powerful, why so much suffering? ” And this eternal question is indeed in the center of the book of Job. What makes the book of Job, one of the most remarkable Books of the Bible. How fascinating that Job, dealing with the eternal question, was one of the first written books of the Bible. God has given us, from the beginning, answers to the most difficult of all questions.
Short Presentation of the Book of Job
The Book of Job is considered one of the greatest literary masterpieces in the world. It contains some of the most beautiful and expressive poems in the Bible. However, people who first read the book of Job can easily get lost because all “intrigue” is in the first two chapters and in the last one. The middle of the book is just a series of speeches.
Subtitles and phrases such as “And Job spoke and said” and “Eliphaz of Teman answered,” serve as markers and landmarks throughout this book. Instead of reading long passages from this book, read an entire speech either from Job alone or from an answer from one of his friends.
If you summarize in a sentence the thought behind each speech and write it on the margin, it will definitely help you (for example, “Job said he is innocent”).
The speakers of that time impressed their audience more with their eloquence than with the rigor of their reasoning. Thus, different speeches can seem flowery. The questions that Job and his friends deal with are life and death issues.
As you read the speeches of Job’s friends, remember that their points of view do not necessarily reflect those of God. The book of Job simply presents points of view without taking responsibility for it.
The book of Job whose writer seems unknown, but it may be Job himself. Unknown date of writing, but according to the details of the story, it happens at the time of the patriarchs. Theme: The biblical view of suffering.
An important book in that it deals with the question of the suffering, biblical view of suffering, inflicted by Satan, on a righteous man (“perfect, right, fearing God and withdrawing from evil”): why does this happen? Job’s friends are unable to find the solution to this mystery (chapter 4-32). God gives the solution and leads Job to grasp his ignorance and tiny littleness before God (end chapter 39) and to judge himself and to repent (chapter 42: 1-6), the purpose of God through the test ending with an overabundant blessing.
Who Is Job?
The book of Job presents a scene in which we see a man who suffers terribly, the latter responds to the name of Job. Who is Job?
” There was in the land of Uts a man named Job. And this man was honest and upright; he feared God and turned away from evil. He was born to seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred pairs of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a very large number of servants. And this man was the most important of all the sons of the East. ” (Job 1: 1-3).
The job was an eminent person, a very rich prince, who enjoyed great consideration among the peoples of his region (Job 1: 3). It is said of Job, that he was upright and upright, that he feared God and turned away from evil. God himself gives this testimony to him and calls him “his servant” (Job 1: 8). He was a priest (Job 1: 5). God testifies to him that he was a man of integrity, just, exceptional. (Job 1: 1-8).
Note: Regarding the country of Uts, some assume that this country was east of Palestine, near Eden. While for others, the country of Uts seemed to be located east of present-day Israel, between Damascus and Edom. […] But one thing is certain, according to the story of the Bible, this country was in the East.
I – Job: The Sufferings of a Just
Nobody had suffered so much; no one had so badly despised him. In reading Job 1: 8 and the misfortunes that have fallen on Job, there is enough to ask – how could such a thing have happened? All of a sudden, the heavens fell on the shoulders of one man, an innocent man named Job. It was the height of injustice.
First, robbers stripped him of his property and killed his servants (Job 1: 14-15). Then fire came down from heaven and burned his cattle (Job 1: 16), then a great wind destroyed his house and killed his sons and daughters (Job 1: 18-19). Finally, Job caught a terrible and painful illness (Job 2: 7-8). What did I do to deserve such suffering? Did he shout?
A Cosmic Confrontation
The book of Job resembles a detective novel in which readers are informed that the main characters. The very first chapter answers to Job’s main question: he did not do anything to deserve such suffering. We, readers, know this but no one tells Job and his friends.
Unbeknownst to him, Job was involved in a cosmic trial, a confrontation prepared in heaven, but staged on the earth. This ordeal was part of what we term theologically the “great conflict”. In this hard trial of faith, the most honest man on earth experienced the worst misfortunes. Indeed, Satan had said that people like Job loved God because of the good things He gives them. Take away from him these good things, Satan had cast, and Job’s faith will fly away, and his wealth and health.
God’s reputation was put to the test. Would Job continue to trust God even when his life would break? The central question of this book is: Will Job turn against God?
His wife mocked him: “You remain firm in your integrity! Curse God, and die! “(Job 2: 9).
His friends were crueler. They said that Job received punishment and that he deserved the misfortunes he suffered. For his part, Job fought to achieve the impossible: to continue believing in a loving and just God despite all the evidence against him.
This trial makes it possible to consider this book as a courtroom scene, where eloquent speeches follow one another. In most of the book, Job sits in the dock to listen to his friends’ sermons. He is incapable of contradicting them; what they say about suffering as punishment seems consistent. Yet he also knows deep down that they are wrong. He does not deserve the treatment he suffers. There had to be another explanation.
Like all those afflicted, Job went through emotional cycles. He moaned, exploded, consoled himself, then plunged into self-pity over his fate. He shared the views of his friends, changed his mind and contradicted himself. And sometimes he made hopeful statements.
Job essentially asked one thing: the intervention of the person capable of explaining his miserable condition. He wanted to meet God himself, face to face. Finally, his prayer was answered; God showed Himself in person. And when God finally spoke, no one – neither Job nor any of his friends – was prepared to hear what he had to say.
In the Shoes of Job
Sooner or later, we find ourselves in a situation similar to that of Job. Our world seems to collapse. Nothing has its more to our eyes. God seems distant and silent.
In such moments of deep crisis, each of us is put to the test. In a way, we become actors in a fight similar to the one that Job delivered. This book faithfully traces each step of this process. Job’s life is an example for anyone who is going through great suffering.
II – The Book of Job and the Biblical View of Suffering
” Why me? Almost everyone asks this question when misfortune strikes. Lack of food, sickness, unemployment – each of its problems raises burning questions about why God allows pain. Over the centuries, afflicted Christians have received help and consolation by studying the book of Job. This one gives no precise theory justifying the suffering of the righteous. Nevertheless, the following lessons can be drawn from the question of suffering in the book of Job.
1. Biblical View of Suffering-Some suffering is caused by Satan.
Chapters 1 and 2 unambiguously reveal that God is not at the root of Job’s problems. He allowed them, but it is actually Satan who is the cause.
2. Biblical View of Suffering-God Is All-Powerful and Good
The book of Job nowhere suggests that God lacks power or goodness. Some people say that God is weak and helpless to prevent the suffering of humanity. Others, called deists, claim that he governs the world at a distance without personal involvement. But in Job, the power of God is never questioned, not only his justice. And in his closing speech, God uses beautiful illustrations inspired by nature to prove his power.
3. Biblical View of Suffering-Suffering Is Not Necessarily the Consequence of Sin
The Bible supports the general principle that “a man reaps what he showed ” even in this life (see Psalm 1: 3, Psalms 37:25). But men have no right to apply this general principle to a particular person. Job’s friends, with all their power of persuasion, have tried to apply this principle to his case. However, when God renders his final verdict, he simply says, “You have not spoken of me righteously as my servant Job did” (Job 42: 7).
The Old Testament contains other examples of people who have suffered without fault, such as Abel (Genesis 4) and Uriah (2 Samuel 11). And Jesus condemned the view that suffering is the result of sin (see John 9: 1-5 and Luke 13: 1-5).
4. Biblical View of Suffering-God Will Reward and Punish Righteously in the Last Judgment
Job’s friends, as well as most of the Old Testament characters, did not have a certain belief in life after death. That’s why they expected God’s righteousness – his approval or disapproval of people – to manifest in this life. Other parts of the Bible teach that God will reward and punish righteously after death (see, for example, Hebrews 9:27, Ecclesiastes 12: 15-16).
5. God does not condemn doubt and despair.
God did not condemn Job’s anguished responses, but rather his ignorance. Job did not accept his pain with resignation, but he shouted to God with all his heart. Job’s relevant remarks scandalized his friends (see, for example, chapter 15: 1 -16), but not God. Curiously, despite his bitter speeches, Job received the praise of God, while his pious friends were correctly taken back.
6. Biblical View of Suffering-Nobody Knows All the Mysteries About Suffering
Neither Job nor his friends knew the realities of this situation. Job concluded that God was unjust, treating him as his enemy. His friends maintained that God opposed Job because of his sin. All later recognized that they saw this problem from a very limited angle, unaware of the real battle that was going on in the sky.
7. Biblical View of Suffering-God Is Never Totally Silent
Elihu brought this out convincingly, reminding Job of the dreams, visions, past blessings, and even the daily works of God in nature (chapter 33). God also took nature as a testimony of his wisdom and greatness. One can see evidence of its existence although it seems silent. A contemporary writer has expressed this truth in these terms: “In the darkness, remember what you have learned in the light.”
8. Biblical View of Suffering-Well-Meaning Advice Can Sometimes Do More Harm Than Good
Job’s friends are typical examples of people who let their pride and their own justice interfere with their compassion. They repeated pious phrases and discussed theology with Job. His answer: “What did you keep silence? You would have gone for wisdom. “(Job 13: 5).
9. Biblical View of Suffering-God Asks for Faith
God shifts the focus of the central question of the cause of Job’s suffering to his reaction. Curiously, God never gave an explanation to this suffering. He did not even reveal to Job the cause of his pain which is related in the confrontation to chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Job. He focused instead on Job’s reaction. The real stake of this struggle was Job’s faith. Hence the following question: Would he continue to trust God to the end?
10. Biblical View of Suffering-Suffering Can Bring Great Benefit
In Job’s case, God used excruciating pain to win an important spiritual victory over Satan. Looking back only at Job’s life, we see the “advantage” that Job had in persevering in his faith in God. The job is often cited as a figure of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, who lived in perfect innocence but endured great suffering and death. The terrible event of Christ’s death was also transformed into a great victory.
Conclusion on the Job Book and the Biblical View of Suffering
Thousands of years later, Job’s questions are still relevant. Sufferers find themselves borrowing Job’s words when they complain about God’s apparent carelessness. But Job affirms that God does not remain deaf to our cries and that he is in control of the world whatever the condition of it. God did not answer all of Job’s questions, but his mere appearance removed his doubts. He learned that God cared for him and governed the world. And that was enough for him.
Although in his trauma, Job could not help thinking that he was a victim of God’s wrath (see Job 16: 9). Many people who experience similar pain have the same feeling. However, in the case of Job, we know that God was not angry with him. He had instead presented him to Satan “as a man fearing God, and turning away from evil” (Job 1: 8).