Faith Encounters Suffering

KEY VERSE: “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.” —Job 3:3

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Job 3:2, 3, 20-26

WITH deep anguish, Job, in these words, expresses the bitter groanings that have been uttered by millions of suffering humanity down through the ages. Cries of despair which, like Job’s, seem lost in the helplessness of man, to understand the ways of God.

Little is known of Job, other than that which is found in his book. From this record we learn that he was a man of high rank, possessing great wealth. It is stated that he was an upright man, having a reputation that was blameless in the relation ships of life. He reverenced God, and accepted his increased substance as an evidence of God’s favor and blessing. Sometimes an abundance of good things will tend to turn one away from the Lord, and to place undue confidence in material values. But seemingly for Job, prosperity had not decreased his appreciation of God and his desire to serve him faithfully.

It was this situation that Satan challenged, charging that Job was serving God only because God was protecting and blessing him. He said, take away all of his goods and “he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 1:11) This was a serious charge against God himself, implying that the only way the great Creator of the universe can be assured that his creatures will obey and serve him is through buying their loyalty with than that which is found in his material blessings. The fact that God allowed Satan to put this vicious allegation to the test reveals his confidence in the basic heart integrity of Job and others like him. He also knew that this difficult experience would result in much good.

One after another, Satan took away Job’s goods: his flocks and herds; his home; and his family. But this did not destroy his faith in God as expressed in his prayer, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

His malicious charge thus far having been proved wrong, Satan asked for permission to also take away Job’s health, and Job was afflicted with painful boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. How poor Job must have suffered! “He took himself a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and sat down among the ashes.

But the final blow came when Job’s wife forsook him. She said to him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die.” To this her sorrowing husband replied, Since we have received good at the hand of God, should not we also accept the evil? Even though it was difficult for him to understand the need for the evil, he remained firm in his belief that God had not forsaken him.

We see this same principle in operation in the general permission of evil. The question is often asked, why God permitted our first parents to be tempted. God knew, even as in Job’s case, that though he allowed evil to blight his entire human creation, yet, in the end, their basic integrity would cause them to turn to him in heart loyalty and willing obedience. He knew that through the outcome of this hard experience they would come to see and appreciate and love him to a degree that otherwise would not have been possible.

Many men have wished to die, and like Job have said in their own way, “Let the day perish wherein I was born.” But while Job was passing through his sore trial he gave expression to a great truth which no doubt did much to sustain him. When it appeared to him that he would be better off dead, and he implored God to let him die, he asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire unto the work of thine hand.” (Job 14:14,15) What a great comfort this hope of living again under better circumstances must have been to Job!

Satan has been allowed to greatly destroy this hope of the resurrection in the minds of mankind, but its prospect is no less a reality. God’s assurance of this was demonstrated in the further allegory of Job’s life when God finally spoke directly to him and subsequently caused a glorious restoration to health and wealth.—Job 42:10-17

And so when God permitted those circumstances which caused the children of Adam to be brought forth in sin and shapen in iniquity, experiencing the agonies of evil, he was confident that their desire for him would not be destroyed. And he planned that in the end man’s willing return to his favor would prove Satan’s charge to be a malicious lie.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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